Photographer and Soldier

At the start of World War I, in 1914, Edward Steichen was a pioneering champion of fine-art photography—he had a leading reputation in the Photo-Secession movement in New York and had cofounded its trailblazing journal Camera Work. Yet by the early 1920s, Steichen had rejected the soft-focus, dreamy landscapes and portraits of his early years in favor of realist photographs made for informational purposes or popular consumption. This turning point was first signaled by Steichen’s role in World War I as chief of the Photographic Section of the American Expeditionary Forces and was fully realized in his subsequent work as lead photographer at Condé Nast Publications, from 1923 to 1937.