A renowned photographer and documentarian of the West, Ansel Adams is known for his photos of Yosemite and the Japanese internment camp Manzanar, but he also supported himself through a number of commercial commissions.
One such job for Fortune magazine in the early 1940s sent him to Los Angeles to shoot photos for a piece on the area’s booming aviation industry. He left with more than 200 photos that capture what the city was like at the time. The magazine ultimately ran just a few of his images.
The photos, now in the digital collection of the Los Angeles Public Library, were first on public display in February 2012 at the Downtown LA gallery drkrm, part of that year’s annual, multi-institution Pacific Standard Time series.
The gallery’s photos were new prints made from Adams’s original negatives.
The photos were donated to the Los Angeles Public Library by Adams in the early 1960s, shortly after he rediscovered them. According to drkrm, a letter included with the donated photos indicated that Adams was less than impressed with his own work photographing the city.
“The weather was bad over a rather long period and none of the pictures were very good,” Adams wrote. “I would imagine that they represent about $100.00 minimum value... At any event, I do not want them back.”