The History of National Park Photography in One Book

Photo: George Eastman Museum, gift of Eastman Kodak Company
The Aperture Foundation is celebrating the centennial of America’s National Park Service with the release of a book titled Picturing America’s National Parks, which is a thorough exploration on the role and history of photography in our parks. Including works from the legends like Ansel Adams and Imogen Cunningham, the hardcover book highlights some of the great photo projects and series that have been completed within some of our most beloved environments. Here, a preview of the recently released 160-page book.

Photo: A work called “Cowboys in Grand Tetons” taken by photographers Herbert Archer and John Hood in 1964. This image was part of an advertising campaign for Kodak in which 18-by-60-foot backlit images were installed at Grand Central Station in New York City.
Photo: Image courtesy of George Eastman Museum
An unknown photographer captures Yosemite Valley from the tunnel view. The introduction of the Kodak camera in 1888 made photographing America’s parks more accessible for the average tourist, however, the entire camera needed to be sent in for the photos to be developed and loaded with new film.
Photo: Image courtesy of George Eastman Museum, gift of Mrs. E.M. Hallowell
Yellowstone National Park geyser captured in a stereograph by Frank Jay Haynes in 1900. Haynes was the official Northern Pacific Railway photographer and purchased his own train car, which acted as his mobile photo studio.
Photo: Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
Carleton Watkins’ image of the Merced River in 1861. Watkins traveled to Yosemite in the 1860’s with a custom-made 18-by-22-inch wet-plate camera. It was later revealed that it took 12 mules to carry the photographer’s equipment.
Photo: Stephen Shore, Courtesy of 303 Gallery, New York
Yosemite National Parks’ Merced River on a warm August day in 1979.
Photo: Len Jenshal
Great Basin National Park as seen in Len Jenshal’s 1980’s photo project on the human elements found within our parks.
Photo: John Pfahl
John Pfahl’s 1980 series “Picture Windows” set out to capture the beauty of our parks through the windows that naturally framed the landscape as if it were already printed and framed.
Photo: Courtesy of George Eastman Museum
This image of a woman in a scarf looking out on Yosemite was part of Roger Minick’s series on sightseers, in which he made many candid-style shots of people experiencing America’s parks, and often the colorful and themed clothing they would wear on their visit.
Photo: Courtesy the artist/Robert Koch Gallery, San Francisco
Dakotan photographer Rebecca Norris Webb explored her local park, Badlands, trying to capture the open feel of the West from someone who grew up there.