An international movement comprised of loosely linked camera clubs and societies that sought to highlight the artistic possibilities of photography and argue that it was a fine art equal to painting, sculpture, and other traditional mediums. Active from the late 19th century to around 1914, the Pictorialists preferred romantic or idealized imagery, used soft focus, and framed or staged scenes according to the compositional principles of painting. In order to emphasize the artist’s hand and counter the argument that photography was an entirely mechanical medium, they often used labor-intensive darkroom processes to produce unique prints. Outside of the darkroom, they mounted international salons and exhibitions and published portfolios and journals, through which they further influenced how photography was discussed and regarded.


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