I live near Yosemite and make my way up several times a year, and I shoot there a lot. But I always stop at the Ansel Adams Gallery, because there are usually at least two of his prints for view and sale. They are the most amazing things, they practically glow off the wall. Seeing these works in person is very important to me, it reminds me that photography is not as mundane as it can seem in our over-exposed world. When you see the real thing, all photography becomes special again, and the possibility of someday making something that beautiful is enough to make me want to keep learning, keep shooting, keep trying to get better. I know there are others who have this impact, but Ansel has left us with an incredible legacy of beauty, and he backed it up by trying to pass along knowledge as well. And when you walk out of that gallery and look to your right and see Yosemite Falls, and to your left and see Half Dome, you get a chilling sense of his appreciation for both nature and the way we humans lovingly portray it.
Great comment. It's fashionable to be snooty about Ansel, especially for those immersed in one dimensional objectivity. It's as if, for some critically engaged photographers, appreciating Ansel Adams is akin to cognitive dissonance. I spend time with a variety of classic and contemporary work - I don't belong to either tribe. I always go back to Ansel at some point, who provided the foundation for beauty in photography. There's not only room for more beauty in contemporary work, but arguably a great need for it. It doesn't have to be saccharine or new age - that's where your intelligence comes in.
'Cows are very fond of being photographed, and, unlike architecture, don't move.' - Oscar Wilde