Pictorialism was a movement in photography that emerged in the late 19th century and sought to elevate the status of photography as an art form by emphasizing the aesthetic qualities of the medium. The pictorialists sought to create images that were more like paintings or drawings, often through the use of soft focus, manipulation of the negative or print, and other techniques.
One of the key figures in the Pictorialist movement was Alfred Stieglitz, who founded the Photo-Secession group in 1902. The group, which included photographers such as Edward Steichen and Clarence H. White, sought to promote photography as an art form and held exhibitions and published a journal, Camera Work, to showcase their work.
Other notable Pictorialist photographers include Julia Margaret Cameron, who is known for her portraits of celebrities and allegorical images, and Gertrude Käsebier, who focused on portraits of mothers and children.
While Pictorialism was influential in its time, it was eventually supplanted by other movements such as Modernism, which rejected the soft-focus, manipulated aesthetic in favor of sharp, clear images that emphasized the medium's inherent qualities. However, Pictorialism remains an important part of the history of photography and continues to influence contemporary photographers who are interested in exploring the expressive potential of the medium.