The f/64 group was organized in 1932 by Ansel Adams
, Edward Weston
, Willard Van Dyke
, and Imogen Cunningham
. This was primarily west coast and particularly California
and went by the name of "The Association of West Coast photographers" for a period of time. In most cases, the photographs were that of California, though this was mostly because the photographers were in that area.
The formation of this group was a response to the prevalence of the soft focus photography that was popular at the time. Prior to the influence of the f/64 group, the philosophy behind photography was that the photograph should appear to be something else (such as a painting). The philosophy of f/64 was to have sharp images with as much depth of field (thus the f/64 indicating a very small aperture and thus great depth of field) and accurate reproduction on paper as possible.
Aside from taking pictures, there was the goal of presenting frequent shows that includes photographs from not just the members of the f/64 group, but also other photographers who have shown a style consistent with the goals.
Another aspect of the f/64 group is that this must be "pure photography" - the final product of the photographic process must be produced with only photographic processes. While there is a great range within photography of what may be done (including such things as squeezing Polaroids and digital manipulation), "pure photography" as defined by group f/64 is defined as "possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form". This restriction comes from the belief that the art of photography must develop within the confines and limitations of the photographic medium.
Many people consider the goals and ideals of the f/64 group to be that of "true" or "pure" photography. With the growth of modern art one sees more art statements with photography as the medium or where the photograph has been modified by some digital process. With the f/64 group, the artistic statement (if any) was made in front of the lens and then the choice of filters and darkroom techniques were to render the photograph as accurately as possible. Today, the ideals of the f/64 group live on in what is known as 'fine art photography'
Do realize this is not to say that all photographs should have everything in focus. There are times that creative use of depth of field can enhance a photograph and focus a viewer's attention upon what is in focus. Each photographer will have his or her own style of taking pictures, just as each painter has his or her own style with the brushes. However, there are very few paintings that are both considered "modern art" and "fine art".
The Group f/64 Maifesto
The name of this Group is derived from a diaphragm number of the photographic lens. It signifies to a large extent the qualities of clearness and definition of the photographic image which is an important element in the work of members of this Group.
The chief object of the Group is to present in frequent shows what it considers the best contemporary photography of the West; in addition to the showing of the work of its members, it will include prints from other photographers who evidence tendencies in their work similar to that of the Group.
Group f/64 is not pretending to cover the entire of photography or to indicate through its selection of members any deprecating opinion of the photographers who are not included in its shows. There are great number of serious workers in photography whose style and technique does not relate to the metier of the Group.
Group f/64 limits its members and invitational names to those workers who are striving to define photography as an art form by simple and direct presentation through purely photographic methods. The Group will show no work at any time that does not conform to its standards of pure photography. Pure photography is defined as possessing no qualities of technique, composition or idea, derivative of any other art form. The production of the "Pictorialist," on the other hand, indicates a devotion to principles of art which are directly related to painting and the graphic arts.
The members of Group f/64 believe that photography, as an art form, must develop along lines defined by the actualities and limitations of the photographic medium, and must always remain independent of ideological conventions of art and aesthetics that are reminiscent of a period and culture antedating the growth of the medium itself.
The Group will appreciate information regarding any serious work in photography that has escaped its attention, and is favorable towards establishing itself as a Forum of Modern Photography.
(CS 39J: a class I would love to take)