In the battle to have photography accepted as an art equal to painting, a primary weapon was the unique, handcrafted print. In the late 1890s, when the point-and-shoot ease of the Kodak camera inspired thousands of casual photographers to take up the medium, Pictorialist photographers were determined that their prints reflect the hand of the artist, laboring in the darkroom to produce the best possible interpretation of the negative. They gravitated to hands-on photographic processes, such as gum bichromate, which allowed the photographer to select different pigment colors and manipulate the gum while printing. Alfred Stieglitz himself preferred platinum prints, which offered a wide range of midtones, for their ability to suggest “atmosphere,” noting that “the negative printed on another medium may be entirely devoid of this valuable pictorial quality.”
For Pictorialist photographers, the negative was often just the starting point: they were interested in exploring different printing processes as well as cropping, vignetting, and reversing the photographic image. The same negative could therefore result in distinct printed variations, and each print was considered its own individual work of art.
Later, Stieglitz would reverse course, choosing to reprint his early negatives without Pictorialist-style manipulation, but he continued to maintain that each print was unique: “Every print I make, even from one negative, is a new experience, a new problem. For, unless I am able to vary—add—I am not interested.”
 Alfred Stieglitz, “Platinum Printing,” in The Modern Way in Picture Making (Eastman Kodak, 1905); reprinted in Richard Whelan, ed., Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes (Aperture, 2000), p. 87.
 Alfred Stieglitz, “A Statement,” Exhibition of Stieglitz Photographs (Anderson Galleries, 1921), reprinted in Whelan, ed., Stieglitz on Photography, p. 226.