Today Ansel Adams would be turning 106 years old. It’s been 24 years since he passed away, but he still looms large in our collective memories. He was an influential person in the arts and in the environment, and as we are part of his family, it’s always fun to think about what he would be doing, and what he would be thinking. If he were with us today and in good health, how would he spend his birthday?
More likely than anything, he would start it like any other day. Fire up the typewriter (I guess that would be a computer now), and bang out a letter to the editor, and probably have some choice words for one of the many misguided policies of the current Bush Administration. He would probably even have his own blog.
On around 10 he would probably switch from writing to "work". Ansel retired from printing original photographs in 1979, but continued working in the darkroom until he died. Chances are he would still work in the darkroom, as in the paraphrased words of another great photographer, Jerry Uelsmann, “there is something about the smell of acetic acid and working in the darkroom that digital photography can never replace”. Whether he would work in the darkroom this day, or choose to work with images in Photoshop, or spend time testing printers, inks, or papers. It is certain that he would be experimenting with or using digital media for his photography.
His family would probably start arriving around noon, and now that the family is numbering nearly 20, a raucous lunch would necessitate an afternoon nap. An excellent interlude before the main event started, a piano concert in his home for friends, followed by cocktails (Jack Daniels) and dinner, which, on this special day, would be small for Ansel in order to save room for the chocolate dessert. After all, when you’ve lived to 106, you can’t be too concerned about a balanced diet.
It is fun to imagine...