Alfred Stieglitz and The Photo Secession
The images I’ve been producing lately, featuring an antiqued tinted look achieved entirely through post-capture processing – remind one of the Photo Secessionists. Indeed, I’m striving somewhat intentionally at least partly in that direction.
The Photo Secession, a movement during the early years of the 20th Century, takes its name from a photography exhibition that was organized and led by Alfred Stieglitz. [NY Met Museum: Alfred Stieglitz and American Photography, and Alfred Stieglitz and His Circle. Also see Edward Steichen and the Photo Secession Years]. Stieglitz selected the photographers whose work would appear in the show. The Photo Secession show drew a tremendous amount of critical and popular attention at the time. Subsequently, in his work and in the pages of the magazine he founded, Camera Work, Stieglitz became the clear leader and most noted of the “photo secessionists.”
The photo secessionists reacted against the highly formal and posed photography being produced in Europe during the late 19th Century. Photography then was not only formal and stilted but highly representational and documentary. Rarely was photography viewed as art. Stieglitz and the photosecessionists, however, argued for more pictorial works and said that a photographic work should be perceived and appreciated primarily as an expressionistic work of art by the photographer.
The work favored by the photosecessionists was usually characterized by more natural scenes and soft focus. Steiglitz suggested photographs should be more like paintings. Photographers carried out extensive post-capture processing in the darkroom to achieve highly manipulated images with the desired tone and texture. For the photo secessionists, the subject of an image was less important than the photographer’s processing and manipulation. It was most important that the photographic image realize the photographer’s personal vision, thus turning what had previously been an almost entirely documentary medium into an art form.
Amazon: Stieglitz and the Photo Secession.