Photo of the week No.23: The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz

This week’s photo is The Steerage by Alfred Stieglitz, taken in June 1907 while Stieglitz and his family sailed from New York to Bremen on the SS Kaiser Wilhelm II.

The photo is viewed as influential in the modernist movement. It is included in Time Magzine’s 100 Most Influential Images of All Time. Time has this quote of Stieglitz on his photo,

If all my photographs were lost and I’d be represented by just one, The Steerage, I’d be satisfied.

It’s undoubtedly a strong image. Whether it deserves the accolades given to it I’m less certain. As Stieglitz was travelling in first class, the photo was taken from that area. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t help thinking that this image is in some way judgmental, looking down, as it were, on the steerage passengers. The angles in the composition are striking, and it’s this that stands out, rather than the people. There are serious analyses of the photo, HEREHERE, and in depth HERE, if your’e that keen to know more about the image and the man. Anyway, you judge. [Click on image to enlarge]


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