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Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film
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Teacher's Guide

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Teacher's Guide: Hints for the Active Learning Questions


1. Students should contrast the posters, which literally dehumanize the Japanese by treating them as non-humans, with the photographs, which emphasize the humanity of the interned Japanese Americans by showing them as individuals.

2. Ask students why they chose the sites they did.


1. You might award students bonus points for suggesting other names to add to this list.

2. You might begin this activity with a class discussion on the kinds of things people find beautiful, and why -- in other words, the different meanings that people attach to the word "beautiful."


1. The presentations should provide a springboard for a discussion on the tradeoffs between economic development and environmental preservation. Questions that may arise include: Should some areas be closed entirely to development? In other areas, should unlimited development be permitted? How might the concerns of local residents toward development projects differ from the concerns of people living farther away? Should poorer nations impose less stringent environmental regulations than wealthier nations?

2. Adams's subjects included national parks, detailed views of leaves and flowers, workers, advertising, an internment camp, shipyards, and portraits (including a presidential portrait). The subjects differ in such areas as scale and the types of light used. One reason Adams photographed many different kinds of subjects, as the film suggests, is economic necessity: for much of his career he had to work regularly to pay his living expenses.

3. Some students might argue that the mass marketing of Ansel Adams represented a betrayal of the ideas his photography represents. Others might argue that it brought his work to the attention of millions of Americans and thereby promoted the cause of natural conservation.


1. You might have each student exchange his or her description with another student, who then will make a drawing based on the description.

2. Remind students that their exhibits should reflect the West's ethnic diversity.

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