Towards the end of the century there was a growing dissatisfaction with the photographic establishment in England and in America. In England this led to a mass of resignations from the Photographic Society, and the formation of a group known as the Linked Ring, whilst in America, in 1902, an avant-garde group of photographers, led by Stieglitz, also sought to break away from the orthodox approach to photography, and from what they considered was the stale work of fellow- photographers.
The American group came to be known as the Photo-Secession, the name Secession coming from groups of artists in Austria and Germany who had broken away from the academic establishment.
Their rejection of establishment photography was aptly summarised in "Photograms of the year" for 1900: "That wealth of trivial detail which was admired in photography's early days and which is still loved by the great general public.... has gone out of fashion with advanced workers on both sides of the Atlantic."
"Amateur Photographer", April 10, 1902, published an acount of this movement as follows:
Characteristic of the photography of this new movement was the employment of special printing processes (for example gum bichromate), and of artwork which lessened the detail on the finished print.
The movement was not without its critics. Sadakihi Hartmann reacted strongly to the idea of manipulating photographs, and decried those who strove hard to make their pictures seem as if they were not photographs at all. In American Amateur Photographer (1904) he wrote: "We expect an etching to look like an etching, and a lithograph to look like a lithograph, why should not then a photographic print look like a photographic print?"
It was not that he objected to retouching or "dodging": "'And what do I call straight photography,' (one might) say, 'can you define it?' Well, that's easy enough. Rely on your camera, on your eye, on your good taste and your knowledge of composition, consider every fluctuation of color, light and shade, study lines and values and space division, patiently wait until the scene or object of your pictured vision reveals itself in its supremest moment of beauty, in short, compose the picture which you intend to take so well that the negative will be absolutely perfect and in need of no... manipulation."
From November 1905 the group laid on exhibitions of work at "The Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession" at 291 Fifth Avenue, New York, which came to be known simply as "291." The group lasted about ten years, though their influential and luxuriously printed journal called Camera Work continued publication for some years after. Notable members included Edward Steichen, Clarence White, Gertrude Kasebier, and Alvin Langdon Coburn.