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Interview

Ansel Adams
©1975 John Sexton
All Rights Reserved


PDN
How did you meet Adams?

JOHN SEXTON
I took a workshop from him a few months after that. That experience changed my whole approach to photography. At that workshop in Yosemite in 1973 I decided I wanted to try and see if I could pursue this for myself, and I'm still trying.

PDN
How long did you work for Ansel Adams. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

JOHN SEXTON
In 1979, I received a phone call from Ansel Adams asking me if I would be willing to consider coming to work for him. I was teaching photography in Southern California at that point. And I had between the 1973 experience and 1979, been an assistant at a number of Ansel's workshops. . Ansel was just about to embark on the major revisions of his book, The Negative & The Print. And as part of my activity there, he had indicated he wanted me to work with him on that and conduct the various technical tests. And so a few months later I moved from Southern California up to the Monterey Peninsula where I still live today. It was an experience that was exceptional. People frequently ask what it was like and it truly was inspiring. Sometimes during his lifetime, people would try and put him on a pedestal and that's not where he wanted to be, but he was really a great individual. He was a very generous soul and was exceptionally dedicated to the medium of photography.

PDN
What else do you remember about Adams?

JOHN SEXTON
So much really. He loved the preservation of the planet and he loved to be around photographers. I mentioned his dedication to photography; for instance people forget that he, along with Beaumont Newhall, co-founded the Photography Department at the Museum of Modern Art.
It was amazing to
watch him in the darkroom at an advanced age, still get excited when the results were pleasing. He still struggled like we all do in the darkroom and he struggled behind the camera, and when he had a success he was beaming.



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