John F. Collins was part of the first generation of 20th century American photographers - along with Edward Steichen, Charles Sheeler, and others - who employed avant-garde ideas into their commercial work and saw no distinction between fine and applied photography, much like the Bauhaus and Constructivist photographers in Europe. "Collins's work was usually simple, elegant, refined in conception and highly dramatic. The pictures emphasized Cubist flattened space, overlapping planes of light, vigorous and subtle tones and textures, to accentuate boldly the forms of the objects, which were treated as abstract shapes. Collins's powerful graphic images called attention to the uniqueness of each object, emphasizing 'the thing itself.' This was the core and heart of avant-garde photography of the 1920s.