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In 1905, Stieglitz and Steichen founded the "291" gallery in New York, a venue specializing in avant-garde art, notably photographs, paintings and sculptures.While Stieglitz and Edward Steichen were doing their best to promote photography as a full-blown art form, Pictorialism - the first major style of photographic art - was becoming high fashion among lens-based artists, around the turn of the century.Both were instrumental in helping to make photography a fine art, and Stieglitz in particular (and also his wife, Georgia O'Keeffe) was responsible for introducing it into museum collections.A landmark event occurred in 1902, with Stieglitz's formation in America of Photo-Secession, an association of creative photographers, and the publication of its magazine Camera Work (1902-17), which rapidly became a forum for modern art of all types.Photography evolved from the camera obscura, an instrument that projected an image through a small hole, allowing the artist to make an accurate tracing of an object or scene.

In the last decades of the nineteenth century, the photograph began replacing the painting as the modern form of portraiture.Many figure painters and portraitists began using the new medium of photography in addition to models, to reduce sitting-time.The great 19th century American realist painter, Thomas Eakins (1844-1916), for instance, was an avid user of the camera, who employed photography as part of his pursuit of realism, rather than as a short-cut or aid to composition and perspective.Photography was also employed by landscape artists - notably the French Impressionist painters, as an aid to plein-air painting. Although by the late 19th century, photography had become accepted in both Britain and America as a minor visual art - due in part to the promotional efforts of magazines like "American Amateur Photographer", as well as bodies like the "Society of Amateur Photographers", the "Society of Amateur Photographers of New York", the "Photographic Society of Philadelphia", and the "Boston Camera Club" - several photographic artists were keen to show that the new medium could be just as artistic as other types of art, like drawing and painting.Two such artists were Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) and Edward Steichen (1879-1973).

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