Quote Originally Posted by Aggie
From some of the discussions I have see recently I have one question that has popped into my airhead. Who did the people Like Weston, Adams, Steglitz et al look up to? Who was it in their lives that influenced them? We all seem to be trying to find our own photographic voice, and look to the greats for inspiration, so why not them? Does anyone know who the inspiration was for who we now consider great?
Oh, cut it out. If I was asked to name anyone on this green and blue globe who is NOT an "airhead", my first choice would be you, Aggie.

This is an interesting question - I've just spent a rather large chunk of time when I should be working in my darkroom, to re-reading "Alfred Stieglitz - A Biography" by Richard Whelan.

The first encounter - serious encounter - that Stieglitz had with photography was on the "chemical" side - with, "Herr Professor Doktor Hermann Wilhelm Vogel of the Technische Hochschule's department of chemistry and metallurgy (Berlin) in 1884. Despite his portentious title, Vogel, who turned fifty in 1884, was not a pompous and punctilious Prussian. He was said to have an `extremely likable personality' and to be a `kindly critic'".
In a dramatic and expressive photograph, Stieglitz wrote of Vogel, "I looked upon that man as a perfect god."
His "aesthetic side" was probably influenced, at initially, by the exchange between Peter Henry Emerson - the "naturalist" and Henry Peach Robinson - a proponent of art that blatantly imitated the works of the "Pre-Raphaelites".

All that said, I really don't think there were definite "role models", per se. The "bright lights" of this era, were generally, fierce individualists, and created much original - truly original - philosophies and works. They had tremendous respect - albeit not alway friendly relations, with one another.