Robert Adams is an American photographer, born in 1937 in New Jersey he first came to prominence in the 1970’s with his work ‘The New West’ and even more so with his inclusion in the work that founded the New Topographic Movement with the exhibition that began it in New York. As a young child and adolescent he was always very adventurous and spent a lot of his time outdoors spending time in the boy scouts and with his father taking in hikes and rafting trips even tho he had contracted polio at the age of 12 he was able to recover. In 1959 he received his B.A in English from Redlands in California and continued with them till 1965 working on and finally receiving his PHD in English. He later moved to Colorado, teaching English at Colorado College he bought a 35mm reflex camera and began his photographing nature and architecture, he went on to teach himself basic principles of photography before enlisting help from Myron Wood, a professor of photography living in Colorado. He wont on to only teach part time, allowing him more time to focus on photography, and by 1970 was working as a full time photographer.
Exhibited throughout his career and publishing multiple books Adam’s is considered to be an influential photographer, especially within the highly inspirationally and widely imitated New Topographic Movement, his images around this time, although similar in the formal constructs of the formal composition and subject matter to Lewis Baltz work, Adam’s photographs captured a larger area, often photographing the architectural elements within the context of the landscape and environment. As with the other photographers of the movement Robert Adams work is a testament to the what his left and remains as the world evolves and changes while looking at the elements of life that should make people ask the question wether the continuing development and expansion of suburbia and all that entails worth the detrimental effects to what was there before.
This is one of Robert Adams more famous images, this extremely fixating photograph of smoke from an oil fire is a wonderful depiction of human damage and change on a natural landscape. The brilliant balance of tones in this image really improve and aid the impact the billowing smoke has on the viewer against the overexposed landscape. The image still maintains the traditional lines we come to expect from a photographer of the New Topographic Movement however less so in this image.
This second image of Adams is a more focused composition from his earlier work ‘The New West’ which preceded the New Topographic exhibition by a year. However we are able to see his style that followed in this image, the controlled use of lines and strong linear elements in the frame from the tree and stop sign to the large object in the background and house to the left of the frame and as I mentioned earlier his tendency to expand his composition to include more of the area around his subject, taking in more of the relationship between the human elements and the natural.