Photography as a Cultural History
Pictorialism is often called photo-impressionism, as long as effects on photos, which were achieved thanks to back lighting, and shooting in mist or under a rain, and with the help of soft-focus lenses, as well as with the help of further manipulation, reminded about.
A famous American photographer Emerson created in the genre of naturalistic photography. The photographer considered, that the main aim of a photographer is to demonstrate how our eyes percept world. That is why a photographer should focus on one object, leaving background unclear.
A group The Linked Ring was created in order to promote pictorialism and photography as a kind of art; it was established by Henry Peach Robinson and had a second name, Brotherhood. Such photographers as Alfred Stieglitz, Alvin Langdon Coburn and Walker Evans were members of the Brotherhood.
Combination printing, method, which became a great step in the development of photography, meant, that more than one negative might be printed in order to create a single picture.
A term and method of “combination printing” is brightly illustrated in the works of Oscar Gustave Rejlander, Gustave Le Gray, Henry Peach Robinson, William Notman, pioneers of pictorialist photography. Alfred Stieglitz, Clarence White, and Edward Steichen made a great achievement.
They assured the recognition of photography as a kind of art. In 1902 these masters of photography established a Photo-Session group and started to print a photography magazine, called Camera Work. Gertrude Käsebier was another notorious photographer of XIX-XX centuries.
When Alfred Stieglitz published several of her works in the magazine Camera Notes, he called her one of the leading masters of contemporary aesthetic photography. Käsebier created outstanding portraits of Native Americans, and wonderful images of motherhood. She also showed that the career of a photographer is possible for a woman. (Marien 79, 170)
The term “straight photography” was called, when critic Sadakichi Hartmann, writing and exhibition review for Camera Work, urged professional photography practitioners to work straight, which meant to make photos that looked like a picture of real world, but not like a piece of painting (that hit at Pictorialist style of photography.)
The notion straight photography is usually associated with Alfred Stieglitz who came to the straight photography through pictorialism, and with Ansel Easton Adams, who mostly took pictures of landscapes and was one of the founders of an f/64 Group, which stand for the main principals of a straight photography.
Alfred Stieglitz created a series of clouds photographs which combined technical and aesthetic principals of his work. The series was called Equivalents and nowadays it is generally recognized as the first example of intentionally abstract photographing. Also Alfred Stieglitz created a series of extended portraits of his wife Georgia O’Keeffe. The same happened with Harry Callahan who became an object of her husband’s persistent photographic attention.
At the same time, though Callahan usually shot pictures of other scenes as they were presented in reality, his wife was always shot with a lot of preparations, her poses were arrange, etc. Among other notorious photographers one may single out John Vanderpant, who greatly influenced Canadian photography.
He established an original style which rejected popular processes of photo manipulations. His works were distinguished by the light and form highlighting.
Still, while photography of the XX century was guided by the outer principals of image content, the period of inner importance came to replace. Though, the notion of inner content of an image rather reminds about slippery ice, the inner reality of objects is inseparably connected with the world of humans associations, and with human’s thinking.
Photographic modernism during its development included such famous photographers, as Lee Friedlander, Nathan Lyons, Tom Gibson, Charles Gagnon. Of course, technological and methodological development also supported the raise of photography. New approaches in combination printing, multiple exposure or montage became great steps in the photo-promoting in XX century.
Marien, Mary Warner. Photography: a Cultural History. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2006. Print.
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