Anne Darling Photography

Famous Landscape Photographers Part 1

Ansel Adams and William Henry Jackson

Ansel Adams (1902-1984) is on of the most famous landscape photographers of all time. He is so famous in fact that his photograph, The Tetons and the Snake River (1942), was selected to be one of the images sent into space on board the unmanned Voyager space probes in the 1970s.

Adams' photograph was one of 115 images selected to convey information about the geological features of the Earth in the event that aliens might come across the spacecraft. Voyager 1 and 2 were launched in 1977 and were designed to study Jupiter and Saturn but the two probes continued into the outer solar system and will eventually exit the solar system altogether. Who knows where Adams' photograph may end up!

I have already written an Ansel Adams biography elsewhere in this site. To read the article or to read about the Ansel Adams Zone System and his photographs, click on one of the links.

Crater of Old Faithful Geyser, taken during Hayden Geological Survey of 1872: Photo by William Henry Jackson

There can be no doubt that Adams was influenced by another famous landscape photographer, William Henry Jackson (1843-1942), also renowned for his pictures of the Tetons. Perhaps more importantly, Jackson's photographs of the Yellowstone Lake area, made on a trip in 1870 with geologist Ferdinand Vandiveer Hayden, were partly responsible for making the area a national park in 1872, the first of its kind in America.

Firehole River in Yellowstone National Park, 1872: Photo by William Henry Jackson
Part of the "Royal Gorge, Grand Canyon of the Arkansas" created c. 1881-96: Albumen print William Henry Jackson
Canon of the Rio las Animas, 1900: Photo by William Henry Jackson

Jackson also photographed native Americans and was the first to photograph the prehistoric Native American dwellings in Mesa Verde, Colorado. In fact he settled in Colarado and worked as a commerical landscape photographer selling his photographs as postcards.

Joseph (Hinmaton-Yalatkit), Nez Perce chief (before 1877): Photo by William Henry Jackson

Jackson travelled extensively, making photographs for a new museum in Chicago, and publishing many of the pictures in Harper's Weekly magazine.

Going to the reception on the Maharajah's Elephant (Jackson's own caption), 1895: Magic lantern image from Kashmir by William Henry Jackson

When he returned to Colorado he moved into publishing and sold all his negatives to the Detroit Photographic Company which went into receivership in 1924 due to the decline in sales of postcards during World War I.

Denver, Colorado, c. 1898: Photo by William Henry Jackson

Jackson's negatives were later divided into two parts, the views west of the Mississippi which went to the Colardo Historical Society, and the others which now belong to the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Self Portrait by William Henry Jackson

William Henry Jackson was honoured by the Explorer's Club for his 80,000 photographs of the American West, and is considered to be the leading photographer of the 19th century on this subject. By the 1890s he was known as America's greatest landscape photographer. He died in 1942 at the age of 99.

To read about famous landscape photographers Fay Godwin (British), or Carleton Watkins (American), click the links.

Part 3 of Famous Landscape Photographers will include work by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, Albert Sands Southworth and Joe Cornish. Coming soon!

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