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Chasing Ansel: A Photographer’s Journey

Pokemon Snap! It was a ‘90s-era Nintendo game that allowed players to take pictures of Pokemon characters from the vantage point of a moving railcar. Photos were judged after each level, and, when I played the video game as a kid, I always scored high. But it wasn’t points I was after. It was the opportunity to be the master of my own vision and to share with family and friends the result of my developing photographer’s eye.

Little did I know a flame was lit. But it was one that would be ignored for quite some time.  

After the age of 12, I became fixated on skateboarding. I pursued it vigorously with a one track mind and was fortunate enough to pick up a few sponsors from different companies. And then, at 21, I had to have surgery because of it. I needed, at this point, an outlet to express myself while slowly healing. I had a mountain of passion bottled up and waiting to be expressed, so naturally I did what every broken skateboarder would do. I turned to my Blackberry 8900 Curve.

The phone was crap, but the camera was the real selling point. I captured everything, and thought that everything that wasn’t my own image wasn’t worth paying attention to. That is, until I met Ansel Adams.

Adams was a brilliant photographer who captured time in season; a landscape photographer who made images of national park landscapes look so filled with life that they’ll continue living forever. Though Adams died in 1984, I can assure you we met in the summer of 2009, in the place where some of his most famous work stems.

Every July, my church attends a conference at Yosemite Valley. In the Village, there’s a gallery dedicated to Ansel Adams’ legacy as an artist. Someone recommended I see the gallery, and, upon viewing it for the first time, I can only say that it hurt to see his work. I actually, physically felt pain. Not the kind that bruises skin, because in time that type of hurt heals. This was different. The pain I felt was like the hard realization I came to as a kid that I couldn’t win a fight with my older brother. He was too strong for me, too good. Ansel’s work compared to mine was like comparing my older brother to a younger me. And I knew he had me beat.

I felt small then when I started this photographic journey, and still do when comparing my work to Ansel Adams. His work is inspiring and motivating, not only for me but also for the world. I entered a race that day I saw his gallery, and my every intention was to run to win. So I mustered myself off of the floor, because I knew I had a lot of ground to catch up.

In that same year, school began and I purchased new equipment. Canon was the wand I chose and the Art Institute of California was my Hogwarts. I grew in my camera knowledge over time and, since then, I’ve developed my eyes to see things the way I hope Adams might have seen them himself. I feel that photography as a medium of art is one that God allows us use to stop time and look into a subject we had no part in creating.

Adams said, “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.” As a believer in the Christian faith, I hold fast to what Psalm 95 states that “in His hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is His also. The sea is His, and He made it: and His hands formed the dry land.”

In the end, this is all God’s creation. I just hope as my photographic journey continues that I’m able to better capture the vast world out there waiting to be shown. And until I’m told either by God or my peers, I won’t stop besting myself until Adams is bested by me.

Until then, I consider myself to be in chase of Ansel.

merced river
Calm Merced River in the early morning hours
House keeping bridge in Yosemite national forrest
Housekeeping Bridge in Yosemite National Park
Big Pines Trails Water Fall
Big Pines Trails waterfall
Trinity River Tree Line
Trinity River tree line
Silverwood Lake fishing opener
Silverwood Lake fishing opener
Inyo County fresh water Lake
Inyo County fresh water lake
Stoneman Bridge in Yosemite National Park
Stoneman Bridge in Yosemite National Park
Kern City River Rocks
Kern City river rocks
Mount Baldy California Pass
Mt. Baldy, California pass
Pando Trees in the late afternoon
Pando Trees in the late afternoon
A still meadow off in the distance.
A still meadow in the distance. Tuolumne Meadows, Yosemite National Park.
Mammoth Mountain Pass
Mammoth Mountain pass


Website: www.rhuds.com

Instagram: @rhuds_


About the author

Rico Hudspeth

Rico Hudspeth

Award winning Photographer
Graduated from the Art Institute Of California
AS Degree in Graphic Design
Formal Training in Photography

instagram @rhuds_

  • Heather Harris

    WHOA – amazing pictures!!!

    And I like your story…your journey. I, for one, think your pictures look Adams-ish. Keep up the great work 🙂

  • Aman

    Good story and good luck but I am perplexed why would you think its a “race” that you must “win”? Why do you feel compelled to create images that Ansel would have “approved of” or had seen himself? I don’t think art is a contest that you need to participate in and aim to “win”, its a journey, a quest for exploration , connection and self expression.
    You as an artist have your own vision and I don’t think you need approval from anyone else but yourself. As long as you are making images that you are happy with and that are a representation of your vision as a photographer, then I think that’s all that matters. By all means have mentors for your creative vision but not “role models” for your pictures.

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