Nature Photography: Pretty Pictures or So Much More?

This image was inspired by the work of Ansel Adams. Photo by Martijn Dehing, Flickr Creative Commons.
This image was inspired by the work of Ansel Adams. Photo by Martijn Dehing, Flickr Creative Commons.

Photography can be a powerful tool for change. It can inspire and inform us and broaden our horizons. A photo can tell a story or impart an emotion in ways words simply cannot.

Ansel Adams elevated the art form of nature photography, as well as its mission. One story tells that his father gave a 14-year-old Ansel his first camera on a family trip to Yosemite in 1916. Adams was awed by the beauty and splendor of Yosemite, and he spent a lot of time there in the following years as he developed his photography skills and his trade.

By the 1930s Adams had established himself as an artist, and he began using his photographs to advocate for conservation. When the Sierra Club—of which Adams was an active member—sought the creation of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Adams created a beautiful book of his photographs in support of the cause. His book, “Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail,” is thought to have had a great influence on the successful campaign.

It’s pretty neat that Adams dedicated his craft to protecting the special places in nature that he loved. Adams was awarded both the Conservation Service Award (1968) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1980) for his work as an artist and conservationist. His superlative photographs continue to inspire and amaze us.

Perhaps now more than ever, in the age of the internet, nature photographers can share the beauty of the natural environment with the world, connecting us with special places and moments.

So, check back on the website tomorrow to see the winners of the League’s Know Wonder© Online Photo Contest! Get inspired by the fantastic photos, and maybe even take your camera or phone outdoors to shoot a few of your own. (Then, share them with us on Facebook or Instagram!)

You can learn more about Ansel Adams on the Sierra Club website, on Wikipedia, or  by reading one of these books.

About the author

Kelsey Piras is a writer and editor based in Southern California. Her Northern California roots and time among the redwoods are endless sources of inspiration and awe.

Take Action

Leave a Reply