Remembering photographer Liliane De Cock Morgan, assistant to Ansel Adams

Posted May 30, 2013, at 5:50 p.m.

WISCASSET, Maine — Liliane De Cock Morgan, former photographic assistant to Ansel Adams, died at her Wiscasset home on Saturday.

Morgan worked with the famed photographer for nine years, and began her own photography career after Adams loaned her a camera, her son, William Morgan of Alna, said Thursday.

Morgan was born in Belgium during World War II, and as a child was sent to orphanages in Belgium for a time to be safe from bombing, her son said. She left home at 14 and worked in factories until she left Belgium at 21 for the United States.

On the boat over to her new destination, she met photographer Brett Weston, who eventually introduced her to Adams.

Morgan was a full-time photographic assistant to Adams from 1963 to 1972. From 1964 to 1967, she worked with Adams and photography critic Nancy Newhall on “Fiat Lux,” a centennial photo book for the University of California.

Morgan used a four-by-five inch camera lent to her by Adams, and she traveled the country on vacations to photograph landscapes.

“What she really appreciated about that time and about Ansel was … that he had a very expansive view of what’s possible,” her son said. “She came to him with not a lot of experience and [he was] able to see that potential and nurture it quietly.”

In 1972, Morgan received a Guggenheim Fellowship and her work was exhibited at acclaimed venues including the Witkin Gallery in New York.

That same year, Morgan was married to her husband, Douglas Morgan. The two had been introduced to each other by Adams.

“They got married in Ansel Adams’ living room in Carmel (California), and Ansel Adams gave my mother away,” Morgan said. “He was in some ways like a father figure … he really supported her in all different ways at that phase of her life.”

In 2010, she retired and moved to Wiscasset to be near family. She died Saturday at the age of 73. A private service will be held this summer, her son said.

According to her son, Adams wrote in the introduction to Morgan’s 1973 monograph, “De Cock presents to us a personal, private world. It is a world of individualistic beauty and intensity. She communicates to all who will respond; she relates to no particular pattern of concept or execution. Hers is fine photography—and what more can one say?”

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