From Pictorialism to Straight Photography

In the early 1900 Alfred Stegilitz believed that amatuer photography was subverting the craft from becoming a true means of artistic expression. Steglitz and a handful of other photographers banded together to form the photo-secessionists.

“A Movement in a Moment: Photo-Secession”

“The Photo-Secessionists, hand-picked by Stieglitz and tightly controlled by him, were American fine-art photographers, part of a larger, international aesthetic movement called Pictorialists…”

Stieglitz contends, ” Its aim is loosely to hold together those Americans devoted to pictorial photography in their endeavor to compel its recognition, not as the handmaiden of art, but as a distinctive medium of individual expression.


In his essay,  ” Movements: Pictorialism versus Straight Photography” Jeff Curtos suggests that many advances in photography came about in response to a sense of dissatisfaction with the status quo or a search for identity in the field.

Reflect on Curto’s article and discuss the importance of the shifts in tradition from Pictorialism to Straight photography by comparing the works of the following photographers:

Alfred Steiglitz
Paul Strand
Ansel Adams