"No photographer is as good
as the simplest camera."
Steichen, an American born in Luxembourg who lived until 1973, enjoyed one of the highest-flying careers in the medium's history. He was the most-published photographer in the entire run of Alfred Stieglitz's influential 1903–1917 journal Camera Work; in 15 years spanning much of the 1920s and '30s he was the most widely known and highest-paid professional in the world, often credited with essentially inventing modern fashion photography (not to mention setting the tone for how photography was practiced as a profession at the highest levels for many decades); and he served as Commander of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit in WWII. As the Director of the Photography Department at the Museum of Modern Art for many years, he staged the exhibit "The Family of Man," which set records for attendance that still stand. In 2006, his "The Pond—Moonlight" became briefly the most expensive photograph ever sold.
(Thanks to Bruce H.)
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Featured Comments from:
Tom Duffy: "Well of course Steichen was right. In his day the simplest camera had manual focusing and adjustable f-stops and shutter speeds."
DiegoMolinaPhoto: "It may be true in some cases...."
Lynn (partial comment): "In recent years I've been testing this theory by using mostly simple cameras—Barnacks and folders, TLRs, even a Brownie No.2. My photography has improved! Go figure."
Stevan Latkovic: "It is one more of those bon-mots that looks profound when you first read it, but are totally meaningless in fact. Did Steichen mean that he was not as good as the simplest Kodak of his day? Or, that Irving Penn was not as good as a Holga? You are pulling my leg, Steichen. I can see you grinning."
Mike replies: Maybe you'll like my version better. "99.99% of the greatest photographs in the medium's history were taken with cameras that are not good enough for today's most inexperienced amateur."