Life magazine, the sadly-not-in-print American photo-magazine that still offers amazing online galleries, has published a very clickable 20 Worst Covers slideshow: and we were surprised to see that one those covers was listed as being photographed by a young Ansel Adams. The black-and-white December 1938 cover, pictured, was titled "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (like the hymn) and, as the caption Life notes, featured a not exactly striking image of lutist playing to a few lit candles. Interestingly, it was just a bit earlier, in July, 1938, that Adams remarked that he was tired of doing commercial photography work for clients like IBM, AT&T and Life, according to his biography on his gallery's site:
"I have to do something in the relatively near future to regain the right track in photography. I am literally swamped with 'commercial' work — necessary for practical reasons, but very restraining to my creative work."
As the Life caption writer notes, Adams's career hit a turning point right around when this "worst" cover was published. He had moved to Yosemite, where he would capture his famous images, in 1937, and in 1938 published his first book of nature photographs Sierra Nevada: The John Muir Trail.
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