Troubador In the Footsteps of Alexander Gardner at Antietam and Gettysburg

Released: 01/12/2013

ISBN: 9781783061136

Format: Paperback

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In the Footsteps of Alexander Gardner at Antietam and Gettysburg

A meditation on the power of the battlefield imagery of Alexander Gardner


In search of Alexander Gardner, the author travels to America to walk the battle sites immortalised in the photographs of his hero, Scots-born Alexander Gardner.

Since his first encounter as a impressionable teenager with Gardner’s photographs of the aftermath of the battle of Antietam, Keith Steiner has come to believe that Gardner’s battlefield photographs are key historic documents of the conflict. He also believes that Gardner’s status as one of the greatest of photographers remains unrecognised and his achievement is often overlooked by history in favour of his one-time employer Matthew Brady.

Forty years after that dramatic first encounter, the author stood on the same ground at Antietam and at Gettysburg where his hero exposed the classic photographs. On this same ground, he began to gain an understanding of the source of the power and continuing presence of Gardner’s artistic legacy, and of the mystery of his imagery. In order to understand the enduring nature of the imagery, the book travels back in time, but also looks to the present and future, to meditate on the meaning of imagery. Steiner considers Gardner’s ‘debt’ to the work of WHF Talbot, and the ‘debt’ that modern photography and cine-photography owes to him; a debt that may have been gently acknowledged recently in the Hollywood feature film Lincoln, which contains references to Alexander Gardner.

Whilst in America, the author also made an attempt to discover if Lewis H Steiner, a Union officer in the Sanitary Commission in 1862, was one of his own antecedents. Steiner was known to have been active in the area of Maryland around the time of the battle of Antietam. Although this remains unsolved, his travels led to a discovery in the form of a more profound understanding of the mystery and power of the photography of Alexander Gardner. In the Footsteps of Alexander Gardner at Antietam and Gettysburg will appeal to American civil war enthusiasts and anyone interested in the history and theory of photography. It is being released this year, recognising the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.

(14/1/14) Review of my book in the 'Banffshire Journal'.

(18/1/14) Review of my book in the 'Paisley Daily Express'.

Reviewed in 'The Scots Magazine'(04/2014), 'Amateur Photographer' (01/02/2014) and the 'Knock News' (03/2014).
Online review in 'Daily Mail Online (01/2014).

Publication of 'Alexander Gardner: Visionary Photographer of the American Civil War'

Reviews in 'The Scots Magazine' (08/2016), and online, including 'Vedette', the online newsletter of the American Civil War Roundtable (UK).

I appeared on the STV programme 'Peoples' History' in a segment on the life and work of Alexander Gardner.

By invitation, presented lecture at Historic Environment Scotland monument, Duff House on 'Scottish Photographers of the American Civil War'.

The Scots Magazine

Banffshire Journal

Paisley Daily Express

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Keith Steiner

Born: 1953

Retired from schoolteaching in 2007.

Have worked since as a teacher caseworker, and part-time guide in a Historic Scotland monument in Aberdeenshire.

2008 My first trip to USA to research the work of Alexander Gardner.

More information is available at my website:

Keith Steiner

'In the Footsteps of Alexander Gardner at Antietam and Gettysburg'
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