Robert Hickman Adams – Life, Career, Awards, & Biography

Early Life

Robert Hickman Adams, an American photographer, was born on May 8, 1937, and is 85 years old as of February 2023. He was born in Orange, New Jersey, USA. His parents were Lois Hickman Adams and Ross Adams. His focus was on the changing landscape of the American West. In 1940, his family moved to Madison, New Jersey, where his younger sister, Caroline, was born. They then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, in 1947. When he was 12 years old, he contracted polio in his back, left arm, and hand, but managed to recover.

In 1952, they last moved to Wheat Ridge, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, when his father found a job in Denver. They partly moved to Colorado because of the chronic bronchial problems that he suffered from in Madison, New Jersey when he was about 5 years old to try to alleviate these problems. He continued to suffer from asthmatic problems and allergies.

When he was a child, he often took Sunday afternoon walks and hikes in the woods with his father. He also enjoyed playing baseball outdoors and doing carpentry work with his father. He was an active Boy Scout and was also active in his family’s Methodist Church.

Robert, with his father, took several raft trips through Dinosaur National Monument, and as a teenager, he worked at a boys’ camp in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. He also traveled by pack horse and went mountaineering. He and his sister started visiting the Denver Art Museum.

Personal Life

In Redlands in 1960, he met and married Kerstin Mornestam, a Swedish native, who had similar interests in art and nature. Robert and Kerstin spent their first few years together in Oregon along the coast. There they took long walks on the beach and read books in the evenings.

In 1963, they returned to Colorado and Adams started teaching English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.


In 1955, Adams entered the University of Colorado, Boulder, in his first year, but transferred the following year to the University of Redlands, California, where he received his bachelor’s degree in English. Later, he enrolled at the University of Southern California and completed his Ph.D. degree in English Literature in 1965.

In 1963, Adams bought a 35mm camera and started shooting mainly nature and architecture. Very soon, he was able to figure out the complete collection of Camera Work and Aperture at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. He learned photography from Myron Wood, a professional photographer, who lived in Colorado. While completing his thesis, he began taking photographs in 1964.

In 1966, he started teaching part-time to devote more time to photography. In 1969, while traveling in New York, he met John Szarkowski, curator of photography, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The museum later purchased four replicas. In 1970, he started working as a staff photographer. 

His work first came to prominence in the mid-1970s with his book, “The New West” (1974), and his participation in the 1975 exhibition, “New Topography: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape”.

Awards and Achievements

He has won:

  • Two Guggenheim Fellowships (1973,1980)
  • Charles Pratt Memorial Award (1987)
  • MacArthur Fellowship (1994)
  • Deutsche Börse Photography Award (2006)
  • Hasselblad Award (2009)

Short Bio

Full NameRobert Hickman Adams
Date of Birth8 May 1937
Birth PlaceOrange, New Jersey, US
Age85 Years Old
Zodiac SignN/A
ParentsFather: Lois Hickman Adams
Mother: Ross Adams
WifeKerstin Mornestam


Who is Robert Hickman?

Robert Hickman Adams, an American photographer.

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