Group F64

Group 64 was a group of seven 20th century San Francisco photographers who shared a common style characterised by sharp focused and carefully framed images seen through a particularly Western Viewpoint.  They formed an opposition to the Pictorialist photographic style that had dominated much of the early 20th century, but more over the group wanted to show a New Modernist aesthetics that was based on precisely exposed images of natural forms and found objects.

The group was created in 1932 by Ansel Adams and William Van Dyke they organised their fellow photographers for the purpose of promoting a common aesthetic principle. The members of the group were Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, William Van Dyke, Sonya Noskowiak, Henry Swift, John Paul Edwards and Edward Weston.  They developed a Manifesto and the most complete collection of prints from the Group F64 exhibition is housed at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Ansel Adams came up with the name F64, which refers to the small aperture setting on a large format camera which secures great depth of field rendering an image evenly sharp from foreground to background. This corresponds to the idea of straight photography.

In Camera Craft Magazine Ansel Adams wrote in 1933

my conception of Group F64 is this ; It is an Organisation of serious photographers without formal ritual procedures in corporation or of the restrictions of artistic secret societies, salons, clubs or cliques….. The group was formed as an expression of our desires to define the trend of photography as we conceived it…..  our motive is not to impose a school with rigid limitations or to present our work with belligerent scorn of other viewpoints, but to indicate what we consider to be reasonable statements of straight photography. Our individual tendencies are encouraged as the group exhibits suggest distinctive individual viewpoints, technical and emotional achieved without departure from the simplest aspects of straight photography’

The Group dissolved in 1935 due to the departure of several members and also due to the challenging economic times. Many of its members continued to photograph and are now considered some of the most influential artists of the 20th century



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