"Camera Work" quarterly journal on-line

Discussion in 'Philosophy' started by movingfinger, Dec 8, 2020.

  1. Alfred Stieglitz' quarterly journal Camera Work can now be found on-line. The on-line archive includes issues from #1, Jan 1903 to #50 Jun 1917. I believe this is the entire run of the journal. This era is when photography was coming into its own as a serious art form and this journal was an advocate and a pioneer for that position (hence why I post here in Philosophy). If you're looking for something to do this winter each of these issues make for fascinating, educational, and inspirational reading and viewing. Even the ads for photographic equipment at the end of each issue keep my attention.

    Here is the link to the on-line archive: Camera Work.
    andylynn, NHSN, davidspahr and 3 others like this.
  2. I agree to everything you said.
  3. Thanks.

    There is also a quality reprint of the images from Taschen books


    And some volumes in the Life Library of Photography series have wonderful gravure reproductions of items from Camera Work and others (original edition, the later re-issue is lithographed)
  4. Thanks for the link
  5. This is sort of a refresher course of what I took back in school. Well it's not really a refresher course, because I have since forgotten everything. Well mostly everything.

    Back then the professor would flash an image on a screen with a projector and as part of the Test we had to write down which photographer, what format, what process i.e(Platinum print, Gelatin Silver, Photogravure, Albumen etc) and what period.

    Alfred Stieglitz will always be one of my favorite photographers. He really tried hard to bring Photography out of the snap-shot, documentary and stiff portraits doldrums of those days. He wanted Photography to become a form of Art. Initially there was strong opposition from the Artist/Painting community and especially from Museums who refused to accept Photography as a form of Art.

    He finally succeeded with the help of his fellow photographers from Camera Work. It was around that time that Gelatin Silver prints became the standard... This is when photographers such as Ansel Adams and Edward Wetson started making their mark. Followed by such famous ones as Dorothy Lange, Walker Evans, Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier Bresson etc.

    Then came "Color Photography" which became a stumbling block for some... Thanks for the link.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2020
    movingfinger likes this.
  6. A frequent area of discussion and dispute on photo.net (and most any other place where groups of photographers gather) is centered around post shutter-click manipulation of the exposed image. It's easy to think that this dispute is new and has only arisen in the digital/photoshop age, but to prove that there is nothing new under the sun, or the more things change the more they stay the same, I offer the following from Issue #1 of Camera Work, published Jan 1903. On page 48 you will find a short op-ed by Edouard Steichen titled "Ye Fakers". You can go read it yourself but to save you some clicks here is the bulk of it (understand this is 1903 wording and terminology):

    "It is rather amusing, this tendency of the wise to regard a print which has been locally manipulated as irrational photography— this tendency which finds an esthetic tone of expression in the word faked. A MANIPULATED print may not be a photograph. The personal intervention between the action of the light and the print itself may be a blemish on the purity of photography. But, whether this intervention consists merely of marking, shading and tinting in a direct print, or of stippling, painting and scratching on the negative, or of using glycerine, brush and mop on a print, faking has set in, and the results must always depend upon the photographer, upon his personality, his technical ability and his feeling.

    BUT long before this stage of conscious manipulation has been begun, faking has already set in. In the very beginning, when the operator controls and regulates his time of exposure, when in the dark-room the developer is mixed for detail, breadth, flatness or contrast, faking has been resorted to. In fact, every photograph is a fake from start to finish, a purely impersonal, unmanipulated photograph being practically impossible. When all is said, it still remains entirely a matter of degree and ability."
    Understandably, Camera Work being an advocate for photography as an art, it comes down on the side of manipulation, wherever it happens, being OK if the end result is good. After this piece on page 48, there is a four page essay by an art professor further elaborating on the artistic value of both pre- and post- capture processing. So Photoshop-ers, take heart.

    One more interesting thing about Steichen's op-ed, but you'll have to go look at it yourself. For those landscape photographers who insist that post-capture manipulation should not be allowed, he ends his piece with sci-fi like speculation on some future machine that would put such folks out of business. Well that future has arrived and it essentially describes what we in 2020 know as "Google Street View".
  7. There were two schools of thought around that time "Pictorialism" and "Purism". Pictorialism was at first promoted by Steiglitz/Camera Work in theirs quest to change photography into a true art form.

    The Pictorialism era was International and spanned from the later part of the 19th century to the earlier part of the 20th century all the way to the 1940's some say. Pictorialism advocated the use of soft-filters, soft lenses and manipulation in the darkroom to convey a certain point/emotion in an image. Purism on the other hand, was a style of photography( that came a little later) that rejected all forms of manipulation on an image. It was basically a style that stressed "Let the photograph speak for itself", or "a picture tells a thousand words" etc.

    It was arduously promoted by West-Coast photographers such as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston, Willard Van Dyke, Henry Swift, etc, etc. and also Internationally. You can equate the controversy between Pictorialism and Purism to the conflict between Nikon and Canon although the former has not really gone away...

    These days we have various styles of photography, whether it be Purist or manipulated. Digital just makes thing so much easier to manipulate. I myself lean towards the Purist chain of thought, but I also admire and I am sometimes overwhelmed by the artistic content of some of the digital composites and abstracts. We are truly living in a Photographic Golden age...

    Last edited: Dec 11, 2020
    movingfinger likes this.
  8. I don't see that at all.

    The Canon-Nikon conflict is a vapid pi**ing match that occupies the easily-distracted minds of certain (mostly male) gear heads.

    The Pictorialist-f/64 conflict was a practical and theoretical difference in visions for the art and craft of photography.

    To me, they're very dissimilar kinds of conflicts both in terms of type and substance.
  9. Emotionally they were somewhat the same. Thanks for disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing...
  10. What does this mean. Can one not disagree authentically here for the sake of better understanding? It was not "for the sake of disagreeing" at all. It was for the sake of clarification, nuance, and substance. Unfortunate that you took it that way. Missed opportunity, the hallmark of PN!
  11. The question is why are you doing this ? We are not getting paid to post out opinions on this site. Please put your EGO on the shelf and contribute positively instead of negatively.
  12. Between 1900 and 1910, Edward S. Curtis took a picture he titled "In a Piegan Lodge" The picture was in the lodge of Little Plume and his son Yellow Kidney.
    Between the two of them was an alarm clock. In the darkroom, Curtis replaced the clock with a basket. When it was published, he caught all kinds of flak for
    manipulating the picture. So, from way back, it ain't always... 'a picture never lies'.
  13. I just told you why. You didn't listen.

  14. Sometimes, the "lie" reveals a deeper and more important visual truth!
  15. It's not about post shutter click manipulations or lying. It was about whether the new thing called photography would have to emulate other forms of art (painting mainly. The camera then was often seen as a brush for those lacking the talent to effectively yield a real brush) or whether it would be allowed to be a form of art in and by itself.

    That purism is a rather excessive/extreme expression of the second position. And one that is/was ill founded and not very helpful.
  16. I like what Richard Avedon said (see the recent "avedon" thread in the News forum):

    "There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth."
  17. I don't think the discussion of Pictorialism vs Purisim was anything like equipment nonsense except for the passion's it engendered. So yes, the level of emotion was similar. But it was actually a discussion about the state and future of photography, a discussion about what photography is with far reaching consequences on how the art world thought of photography and is still ongoing in some respects. It's not just disagreeing for it's own sake.

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