Each summer, many flock to national parks across the country seeking nature, open space, and to capture a beauty and majesty made visually prominent long ago by influential American West photographer Ansel Adams. However, despite wide-acclaim for his dramatic large black-and-white photographs of national parks in the west, Adams’ early work is not as widely known.

Join us for a lecture with scholar Dr. Rebecca Senf on her recent publication Making a Photographer: The Early Works of Ansel Adams, where she will discuss Adam’s career leading up to his Guggenheim-supported national parks project. ICP’s Managing Director of Programs David Campany will join Senf after the lecture for a conversation and will facilitate a Q&A with the audience.

About Making a Photographer: The Early Work of Ansel Adams

An unprecedented and eye-opening examination of the early career of one of America’s most celebrated photographers.

One of the most influential photographers of his generation, Ansel Adams (1902–1984) is famous for his dramatic photographs of the American West. Although many of Adams’s images are now iconic, his early work has remained largely unknown. In this first monograph dedicated to the beginnings of Adams’s career, Dr. Rebecca Senf argues that these early photographs are crucial to understanding Adams’s artistic development and offer new insights into many aspects of the artist’s mature oeuvre.

Drawing on copious archival research, Senf traces the first three decades of Adams’s photographic practice—beginning with an amateur album made during his childhood and culminating with his Guggenheim-supported national parks photography of the 1940s. Highlighting the artist’s persistence in forging a career path and his remarkable ability to learn from experience as he sharpened his image-making skills, this beautifully illustrated volume also looks at the significance of the artist.

About the Program Format

This program will take place on Zoom. Those who register to attend will receive an email with a link to join the lecture through a computer or mobile device upon registration. We recommend you add program@icp.org to your email contacts to ensure delivery of the Zoom link.

If you do not receive the link by 5 PM on the day of each lecture, please email programs@icp.org. No refunds will be given.

We recommend participants download the Zoom app on their device prior to the program. Learn how to download the latest version of Zoom to your computer or mobile device.

For more questions about the virtual lecture, please contact: programs@icp.org.


Dr. Rebecca Senf is Chief Curator at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, in Tucson. Her BA in art history is from the University of Arizona; her MA and PhD were awarded by Boston University. In 2012, her book Reconstructing the View: The Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe was released by University of California Press; in 2017, her book To Be Thirteen, showcasing the work of Betsy Schneider, was published by Radius Press and Phoenix Art Museum. Senf is an Ansel Adams scholar, and recently published a book on Ansel Adams’s early years, called Making a Photographer, copublished by the CCP and Yale University Press.

David Campany is ICP’s managing director of programs and a writer, editor, and curator.


Image: Ansel Adams, The Tetons and the Snake River, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, 1942. Center for Creative Photography University, of Arizona. © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust