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Jim Chinn
09-02-2006, 11:06 AM
Robert Adams is considered by many as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. I think most people know him from his early work documenting the encroachment of people and development on the East slope of the Rocky Mountains near Denver. He was one of the first of the "new topographers" who considered the effect and presence of man in the environment as a logical progression in landscape photography.

One thing about Adams is he has continuously evolved and continued to explore the boundry between man and the environment in a variety of projects for the last 40 years. He is the kind of photographer that when I was younger I did not really care that much for, but in the last few years I have really come to appreciate his varied work and talent. He also wrote two of the best books on photography I have read. Why People Photograph and Beauty in Photography: Essays in Defense of Traditional Values.

This image, simply titled Longmont, Colorado, (1978) is from a project called Summer Nights. I love the omminous approaching storm clouds that seem ready to envelope the rather unsuspecting little carnival at the base of the mountains.

clogz
09-02-2006, 11:21 AM
Hello Jim,

Robert Adams was very right in saying that we must find a non-ironic world. In other words: let's admit wonderment into our souls. This picture of his captures this perfectly.

Hans

david b
09-02-2006, 11:37 AM
To me, my opinion, Robert Adams is the b&w version of Stephen Shore. I love both of their work.

The reason Robert Adams books are so good and sometimes so hard to read is, he is a university English professor.

Claire Senft
09-02-2006, 12:11 PM
Does nuffin 4 mi.

jovo
09-02-2006, 12:36 PM
I like this as a stand alone image, but not as much, I think, as I would if I were seeing it as part of a 'body of work'. It's dynamic and, as you suggested, Jim, has ominous portent.

I have only read "Beauty in Photography" once...it wasn't enough. I need to read it again. I'm not sure if he used too many words or too few, because I haven't retained much. I'll give it another go.

Ray Heath
09-02-2006, 08:17 PM
i've seen better, not a particularly exciting rendition

Alex Hawley
09-02-2006, 08:42 PM
Its a good photo, but it does nothing for me. I would never classify it as great; just good.

I for one have never quite understood why Adams is considered so important. I like most of his work that I have seen, but the Masterfullness escapes me.

Lee Shively
09-03-2006, 01:48 PM
Adams is, for me, one of those photographers who either create photographic poetry or photographic drek and nothing in between. His book West From The Columbia inspired me greatly. So much so, I had to see the Columbia River at the Pacific. But many of his other photographs and projects leave me at a loss to understand their importance. I loved his two books of essays, hated his book of interviews.

c6h6o3
09-03-2006, 04:32 PM
Adams is, for me, one of those photographers who either create photographic poetry or photographic drek and nothing in between.

I've never been anything but bored with any of his photographic work. However, he's the best writer about photography living.

Bill Hahn
09-03-2006, 04:36 PM
I will always be grateful to Robert Adams for his book "Why People Photograph", which introduced me to the photography of Paul Strand, and also kept my sanity during a difficult period of my life. (I was reading this book while watching a parent die.)

But I've not seen a photograph of his that really hit me emotionally. This could be my fault, not his....

Jim Chinn
09-03-2006, 11:59 PM
One of the things I guess that fascinates me about R. Adams is that I probably can count on one hand the number of people I know who like his work, but if you look at his biography his work may be the most collected by institutions and museums of any contemporary photographer. He has won numerous awards and honors worldwide for his work. I like the summer nights work and his projects about Los Angeles in the early 80s, but his more recent work concerning deforestation and clear cutting is pretty boring stuff that has been done over and over for 40 years.

Maybe it's salesmanship or simply his connections in academia led to his critical acclaim. Perhaps his work in the early 70s was considered anti-capitalist and anti-establishment enough to garner the attention of the left leaning radicals that would assume positions of power in university and museum art departments in the 80s.

Alex Hawley
09-04-2006, 09:30 AM
Maybe it's salesmanship or simply his connections in academia led to his critical acclaim. Perhaps his work in the early 70s was considered anti-capitalist and anti-establishment enough to garner the attention of the left leaning radicals that would assume positions of power in university and museum art departments in the 80s.

That was my take on it too Jim. Without his explanation of his agenda, his 70s work looks like nicely done pictures of a growing suburbia. Nothing special about it IMO.

Richard Boutwell
09-04-2006, 03:36 PM
Firstly, I will say that I do like this picture. It can have so many different meanings. the one that you said about the "storm enveloping the crowd," and that they (we) are easily distracted from the encroaching storm (whatever storm that is). But it could also mean that we have to keep our to our senses and see the beauty and goodness where it exists.

What I think Robert Adams does that makes his work important is that it makes us look critically at ourselves and what we have created-- like the title of one of his books, What We Bought. That is why, I think, most people do not like his work, but respond to other photographers who make more accessible pictures-- like mountain landscapes or the side of an old barn.

Though I do believe that, as Jim has said, "He is the best writer about photography living." Partly what makes him such an effective writer is his background in literature (he was a college english professor). Sometimes his books are difficult to read and really understand. It isn't because he uses to few or too many words, but it is the order in which they are arranged-- which is effective, but not without some work.

I don't want to turn this into a political argument, BUT-- no I'm kidding . . . I disagree that his work would not be understood without him stating his agenda, (but maybe that is partly due to me having similar feelings about the world-- overpopulation, unchecked growth, the destruction of ecosystems and the effects it has on us and they way we live).

I do not think though that his ties to academia that lead to his importance in photography. It has more to do with him facing issues that few were facing, and doing it so well for so long. His pictures are all very good, they might be unconventional, but they are still good. I am looking at the cover of Along Some Rivers as I write this (the one with the airplane). If the picture were composed any differently it would completely fall apart.

There is so much more that could be said about him and his work, both as a photographer and a writer, but that is all I have in me for now.

Helen B
09-04-2006, 03:59 PM
That's the first picture in Summer Nights and I find it to be a perfect opening to the magic journey that follows. It is one of those books in which the pictures have captivating static (individual) and dynamic (sequential) composition. I don't know if any of you folks have read Arthur Machen's Hill of Dreams but it reminds me of the sense of wonder in the opening paragraphs.

Best,
Helen