Ansel Adams A Film Directed by Rick Burns on DVD

(Sierra Club, 2002, first aired on PBS)

When I was a child I saw Ansel Adams's photographs on calendars sold by the Sierra Club, but until I saw this DVD I didn't know that he was one of the most successful American artists in history. As a young adult I read Ansel's classic books on technique - The Camera, The Negative, and The Print - but I had no idea his work was admired and respected by some of the greatest photographers in the world (Paul Strand, Alfred Stieglitz).

This documentary offers richly detailed information about Ansel's life and work, along with still and video images of the beautiful landscapes (especially Yosemite) that inspired him. In addition to narration by several people who knew him, the film features poetic commentary by John Szarkowski, former curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Not just a nature photographer, Ansel also made stunning portraits of people and was an environmentalist who was instrumental in protecting wilderness areas. At the end of his long and complicated life Ansel Adams was honored by the creation of a national park in his name. Most documentaries tend to focus on sad social problems, but this is possibly the most beautiful documentary ever made. A must-see for any serious photographer.