Ansel Adams has long been an inspiration to me. Despite six moves in less than a decade, three of my favorite Adams’ black-and-white photos taken at California’s Yosemite Valley remain unscathed. I protected those pictures like they were the Queen’s jewels. While I don’t get many chances to experiment with natural landscape photography as much Adams did, I still try to incorporate his techniques in my everyday shooting.
El Capitan, Sunrise, Moonrise over Hernandez, Winter Sunrise, and Clearing Winter Storm are some of Adams’ most popular prints. The guy was a master at what he did. What’s more, he shot long before the digital photo era, which means his images are 100 percent unaltered. Adams was vehemently opposed to pictorialism, the trend to alter photos in the darkroom. Rather, he embraced “straight photography,” which makes one wonder what he would think of today’s high-tech society where Photoshop reigns supreme.
In addition to Ansel Adams, I’ve also gained inspiration from a slew of legendary female photographers, such as Annie Leibovitz. When I was a teenager, I secretly wished I could follow in Leibovitz’s footsteps by becoming a famous entertainment photographer. My dad kept the issue of Rolling Stone which features John Lennon and Yoko Ono posing just hours before the singer was shot and killed. Leibovitz took that photo which has since been seen around the world.
Shortly after I gave birth to my daughter, I started studying the incredible images taken by Anne Geddes. Highly regarded for her work with babies, Geddes is phenomenally popular in her native Australia, as well as in the United States. You might recognize her portraits of newborns posed as flowers. I tried to recreate some of her most famous photos with my daughter and failed miserably. Still, I can’t help paging through her calendars, and marveling at how she is able to capture newborns in such an amazing light. What’s more, Geddes is self-taught. She didn’t have a second of formal photo training, yet she is one of the most iconic pros shooters in the world.
Now that’s inspiring.