During the Second World War, Edward Steichen was among a select group of naval photographers who documented combat in the Pacific theater. While some members of the Naval Aviation Photographic Unit, much like Mr. Steichen himself, are well-known for their contributions to photo history — notably Wayne Miller and Fenno Jacobs — others had a lower profile.
Fons Iannelli was among those unsung talents. He took up photography at 21, just a couple of years before Mr. Steichen recruited him to join his maritime group of documentary photographers in 1941. Now, a recently-uncovered trove of photographs taken by Mr. Iannelli, including both wartime prints and postwar work, are featured in an exhibit opening Thursday at Steven Kasher Gallery in New York.
None of Mr. Iannelli’s wartime photos depict his comrades engaged in combat. Instead, they show daily life at sea, in keeping with Mr. Steichen’s directive that his photographers shoot a range of activities. He showed how the sailors lived: the quarters they slept in, the military drills they ran; maintaining planes and celebrating holidays. Camaraderie was at the heart of the work, which is unmistakably informed by the aesthetic that Mr. Steichen championed, and adheres to Mr. Steichen’s impeccable standard for print quality.
“He had an eye for extracting the significance from the moment,” Mr. Kasher said of Mr. Iannelli’s images. “Even very mundane moments on an aircraft carrier, if you can call it mundane because there’s a world war going on.”
After the war, Mr. Iannelli — who died in…