From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Founded in 1932, Group f/64 who championed purist photography, had this to say:
- Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form.
The term emerged in the 1880s to mean simply an unmanipulated photographic print, in opposition to the composite prints of Henry Peach Robinson or the soft-focus painterly images of some pictorialist photographers. At first, straight photography was a viable choice within pictorialism, as, for example, the work of Henry Frederick Evans. Paul Strand's 1917 characterization of his work as ‘absolute unqualified objectivity’ described a change in the meaning of the term. It came to imply a specific aesthetic typified by higher contrast, sharper focus, aversion to cropping, and emphasis on the underlying abstract geometric structure of subjects. Some photographers began to identify these formal elements as a language for translating metaphysical or spiritual dimensions into visual terms. This emphasis on the unmanipulated silver print dominated modernist photographic aesthetics into the 1970s.