A cover of Camera WorkCamera Work

In 1902 Stieglitz, along with Joseph T. Kelley launched Camera Work, a quarterly publication that supported the ideals of the Photo-Secession movement with the purpose of to “loosely hold together those Americans devoted to pictorial photography in their endeavor to compel its recognition, not as a handmaiden of art, but as a distinctive medium of individual expression.” Photo-Secession encompassed pictorialism, which holds that the manipulation of an image to create the photographer’s subjective perspective was more important than the subject of the photo itself. Photos were more about the feelings evoked and the artist’s individual process of expression rather than subject alone. Stieglitz was not on his own with this, however. He had the help of co-founders such as F. Holland Day, John Bullock, Frank Eugene, Gertrude Käsebier, Joseph Kelley, Robert Redfield, Evat Watson-Schütze, Eduard Steichen, and Clarence White. This belief also spanned several photographic societies around the world.

Photo-Secessionists argued that with fine art painting, paintings were given much value based on how the painter manipulated the canvas and the paint itself, so that theory should translate into photographers manipulating the image and paper on which it is printed. Alternative processes such as platinum printing, sepia toning, and gum bichromate processing became more popular. In-camera manipulations like soft focus, coating the lenses, and filters were some of the modifiers utilized in photo production.

Gloria Swanson 1924 by Edward Steichen

Fifty issues of Camera Work were ultimately created. Stieglitz and Kelley’s attention to detail with their photography ideals translated into the printing of the magazine. They believed that their presentation of their ideals would carry greater favor with proper artistic methods of presentation and the result was a beautiful product that even carried published credit to the printers.

Camera Work contained in-depth, intellectual articles about the movers and shakers within the Photo-Secession movement and eventually the profits helped to found gallery “291” in New York so that members of the movement had a permanent place to display and exhibit their work to the world. 291 became the ONLY US gallery to regularly exhibit modern photographic work. It became a pretty special place for those interested in the movement.