The truth about Ansel Adams

There’s an interesting interview of the photographer Stephen Shore by another photographer, Alec Soth, in today’s Financial Times. It contains an interesting story about Shore’s first encounter with Ansel Adams:

One of my closest friends at the time was a curator named Weston Naef, and he had a loft in SoHo. He invited me to dinner one night with Ansel Adams. This is in maybe the mid-1970s. Ansel had been, in fact, very helpful to me without my knowing it. Uncommon Places [Shore’s first book] came about because I had a show in ’76 at MoMa and he saw it and came back with his editor at New York Graphic Society, named Tim Hill, and suggested they do a book. That’s how Uncommon Places happened.

Ansel had been drinking before I got there, and while I was there he had six glasses of straight vodka — a prodigious amount of vodka — and at one point he said, “I had a creative hot streak in the ’40s, and since then I’ve been pot-boiling.” And I thought, when I’m 85 that’s not how I want to look back at my life.

Later in the conversation he asks Adams how he managed to do as much work as he had in the 1940s when he had five children. The reply: “I got separated”. I’m reminded of Cyril Connolly’s listing of “the pram in the hall” as one of his Enemies of Promise.

Innate superiority

One of our cats. I had been patiently explaining to her — for the umpteenth time — that she was not allowed to sit on this cushion. Her reaction confirms that she knew of PG Wodehouse’s explanation of the superiority complex that all cats manifest: they know that the ancient Egyptians worshipped them as gods. Either that or she’d been browsing “Dogs have owners; cats have staff”.