Whitney and Ansel

September 09, 2021  •  9 Comments

Point of View - YosemitePoint of View - YosemiteYosemite National Park, California
Clearing Winter Crowds
Yosemite National Park, California

Last night I watched a biography of Clive Davis, the music producer and founder of Arista Records. Clive has signed on many of the most popular singers, songwriters, and bands that people of a certain age know and love: extraordinary artists from Janis Joplin to Alicia Keys. There was a special bond however, between him and Whitney Houston so the show spent more time exploring that relationship and her tragic death. Of course, you can't discuss Whitney Houston without delving into her gorgeous, full throated rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You."  What? Dolly Parton's? Yes, Dolly Parton wrote and sang that song 20 years before Ms. Houston belted it out in the so-so movie, "The Bodyguard." And yet, it has become so much Whitney's song that if Dolly wasn't such a superstar herself I doubt anyone would know the song other than what flowed via Whitney's beautiful voice.  She now owns that song. 

It has happened before, Jimi Hendrix and "All Along the Watchtower", "Blinded by the Light" sung by Manfred Mann's Earth Band and probably dozens more. 

Which brings me to this: Why not photographs?

For example: Why have we not seen someone other than Ansel Adams own that grand vista from Yosemite's Tunnel View shown in, Clearing Winter Storm? Adams made that image in 1944! Over 75 years ago and no one has toppled the king? You'd have to be pretty naive to think that no one has created a better image from that spot; millions have tried. It wouldn't surprise me that over those 75 years someone's Uncle Bob or Aunt Jenny didn't accidentally take a quick snap while visiting and ended up with something equally as marvelous. Perhaps even those of you reading this have created something just as fine as Saint Ansel. Are we all just making copies? 

So, is it because he was the first... the best...the most recognized... or maybe, the most marketed? Is Clearing Winter Storm locked in our cultural consciousness; the photographic equivalent of the Mona Lisa? Or am I totally off base? 

El Cap with PineEl Cap with PineYosemite National Park, California
The Woefully Under-marketed, non-Adams, El Capitan with Pine
But! Act now, click the image to purchase! 



Monte Stevens(non-registered)
No, you're not totally off base. I do not have a copy of ' Ansel's image nor will I ever and due to the crowds as your top photo shows. Sure not how I wish to be a photographer. As Peter mentioned I do not wear all those hats nor do I have someone wearing them for me. I'm just a photographer and blogger.
Todd Henson(non-registered)
I wonder if our familiarity with history might play into it? Maybe more of us are better versed in our photography history, at least when it comes to the very iconic shots, than we are to music history. We see a photo of these Yosemite scenes and immediately think of Ansel because we know that history. But when we hear a new interpretation of a song, unless we grew up with it, there's a good chance it will seem completely new to us. I have to admit I had no idea Dolly Parton wrote and originally performed that song.

I also like Peter Tellone's thoughts, especially since he's coming from the perspective of both photographer and musician.
David Miller(non-registered)
Different renditions - Bob Marley wrote and performed Waiting in Vain for Your Love. I love the rendition done by Annie Lennox. I like it when a beautiful song is done by someone with a special voice or style. Most times the original appeals to me but recently while visiting a brewery in Solana Beach (go figure) I heard a song originally performed by The Boss but this was performed by a female singer. It was terrific.
JWSmith Photography
Note: I"m adding my e-mail response to Mark Graf as a way to let everyone else know that I do read these and respond to them but Zenfolio is a horrible blog site and doesn't allow threaded responses. I do read and reply to all comments.

Hi Mark,
To answer your last question, Yes, it’s a problem with the horrible Zenfolio blog site. They don’t thread responses so if I were to answer you there it would have to be as a separate post which looks silly and could end up 2 entries away from your post if I weren’t quick enough. I’m really intent on moving at least the blogging portion but probably the whole site to Squarespace. I get worried that when people look at the comments and don’t see my replies they figure I’m just a jerk and don’t comment. So, I try to answer all comments with a personal (but unfortunately private) e-mail, like this. I think I’ll take this response and post it so at least there’s an explanation out there
Well, hard to top the response Peter had above to this thought-provoking post Joe. Except I will admit, I did not know it was not originally done by Whitney. I am familiar with the other remakes you mention, but that one either just escapes my memory (a very good possibility) or the original was just so forgettable that Whitney just filled in the space as being unforgettable. And while I know it is a remake, I personally prefer Pearl Jam's version of All Along the Watchtower - just because Eddie Vedder is a much better singer than Dylan or Hendrix.

Even though I have never been there, I have certainy seen alot of images of Tunnel View. Some of Michael Frye versions I can picture in my head because of the mood he captured at the popular point. But I can't really recall any others at the moment.

(as I side note - I always wondered why replies aren't available here - is this a limitation of your site software? )
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