I spent this morning at the Ansel Adams: Celebration of Genius at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh.
I first encountered Ansel Adam’s work a few years ago when I led a party of Dunbar Grammar School pupils to Yosemite Valley where we were “Following in John Muir’s Footsteps” – John Muir was a former pupil of Dunbar Grammar.
In what was a life changing experience I used to get up every morning at 5.30am and watch the sunrise over the Valley. Looking at Adams’ photographs this morning I was taken back to these special moments. So how does a photographer manage to create such powerful images, which are so much more than photographs?
Perhaps it had something to do with Adams’ childhood and upbringing where he was an unconventional child who was probably dyslexic and hyperactive. His father recognised this and set about educating him at home and providing him with an incredibly rich range of experiences which shaped and nurtured the boy. Ansel Adams described this as follows:
“I often wonder at the strength and courage my father had in taking me out of the traditional school situation and providing me with these extraordinary learning experiences. I am certain he established the positive direction of my life that otherwise, could have been confused and chaotic. I trace who I am and the direction of my development to those years of growing up in our house on the dunes — propelled especially by an internal spark tenderly kept alive and glowing by my father.”
It’s revealing insights like these that confirm for me the need to recognise the importance of learning experiences which extend far beyond our existing perception of what “schooling” should be.