this is a great thread, thanks bill !
i think steichens' time is pretty much like now.
photography has always struggled to make a niche for itself.
after the 1890s when anyone and everyone could have a camera and
make photographs ( or take photographs ) and send them off to a lab or whatever ...
photography became a mass-culture sort of thing.
there have always been photographers, artists, fine artists, fine art photographers ( or whatever youwant to call them )
who take their time and work with the medium to make something fantastic, and there have always
been blowhards who just blab on and on about who they are and what they make like a sales pitch
and when you see what it is they make it makes you wonder ...
its the same as now ... plenty of people with cameras ( digital or film )
plenty of people struggling to make images that they want to make and show ...
i don't think an indepth understanding of the chemistry or art of background or craft is needed to make
fantastic images, i don't really know what it takes, to be honest.
latrigue made his picnic images and race car images when he was a kid,
and i don't really think he had an indepth knowledge of much more than most of the people who
use a cellphone or a lomo or holga these days ...