Donald Kinney

I was a lucky boy growing up on the Monterey Peninsula, walking in the footprints of Weston and Adams. Instead of doing homework, I spent every minute outside shooting pictures or developing in the darkroom. 

It was a bright, chilly morning in Carmel when I spotted the man I admired, if not idolized: Ansel Adams. There he was in the flesh –– bushy beard, string tie, wide brimmed hat, and confident stride. I recall his voice was high pitched, yet soft. He had a kind manner. Surprisingly, I found him rather elf-like. Somehow I mustered the courage to ask him to view my pictures. To my amazement, he agreed. The next thing I knew I was sitting nervously in his Carmel Highlands living room while he looked through my rather pathetic prints. But he was careful and considerate; explaining his “Zone System” and  how I could improve each shot.

His advice was inspirational, yet humbling. I had work to do.  A few months later he agreed to review my “new work”. He complimented me on how much I improved. Beyond his willingness to share his technical secrets, he taught me a lesson in generosity.

For many years, I took a break from photography to ‘work’. My return to photography in 2001 coincided with the new digital medium. Gone was the drudgery of long hours in the darkroom and the expense of film. I could get back to what I loved —“in Marin”— an exceedingly beautiful area just north of San Francisco.

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