Photography history essay

Photography in its common meaning was discovered by a man quite late. By the 4th century BC, camera obscura came around and Aristotle had found out about it. Camera obscura is an optical device that came into use during the Renaissance. It consists of a box or a darkened room with an opening on one side projecting an image onto the facing side. It was used by artists as a drawing aid because it preserved perspective. By the eighteenth century the use of lenses and a mirror set at 45 degrees made for smaller, portable camera obsurae. Camera obscura is a very old device yet it was very handy back in the day because it is also used as an aid for drawing and entertainment. 

It wasn’t until the early to middle of the 19th century when a lot of chemical elements were not discovered yet. Scientists couldn’t figure out which elements can react to light and which can’t react. People had to save pictures that were only hand drawn. But when it came down to who actually invented photography, I believe there were many founding fathers of photography. Through my research I found in the book, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took the first photograph of the window at Saint-Loup-de-Varennes. In 1826, he came up with the idea for the permanent photograph. It required eight hours of work to take the very first photo. 

Thirteen years later, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre discovered the daguerreotype. The daguerreotype is to be exposed, developed, and fixed successfully. It allowed the process to go from 8 hours to just a few minutes. Until then, these photos were referred to as plates. The book states, “Along with Daguerre’s invention, the French government had intentions to purchase the rights to it for the world.” Meaning for the world to have access to making photographs quicker and easier. 

Following the daguerreotype, William Henry Fox Talbot introduced a new process called the “photogenic drawing”. Talbot’s photography was negative at the first stages. But after putting it in a special solution in a dark room the picture could be transferred. In the process the colors changed, and it was a black and white picture. This process had a lot of its own features. Talbot had taken out a patent for his invention, that is why his method of photography was not very popular. Most photos are only taken by the inventor. The main advantage of the Calotype was the limitless possibility to make copies from one negative. That was another reason it took off after being discovered. People were starting to realize that they could make multiple copies with a little work. According to the book, “Today a unique or limited-edition photographic print by a celebrated artist can sell for more than a million dollars” I believe this quote myself. It is crazy what painting or photographs go for and even so people that buy them.

Frederick Scott Archer’s process substituted glass for Talbot’s method. This process was called the “Albumen print”. This print uses the albumen from egg whites. It was first used in 1848 for dry plates, before being superseded by the wet-collodion process from 1851. Albumen had far greater success for coating onto paper where it provided a smooth surface for the photographic emulsion. This was described by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard in 1850 and albumen paper remained popular until the 1890s. The mass production of Albumen Prints and their very fine detail was made possible. Until 1880, this method was in popular demand for portraits. Most of the 19th century photographs were in this category.

The Kodak camera was first recognized by females. Kodak marketed these cameras to mothers and “new woman”. These fancy cameras were first introduced in 1888 caused huge changes to the world of photography. The camera was preloaded with film for up to 100 photos. That is ground breaking from what people were used to. When you finished the film, you brought the whole camera to the store where the film was developed, printed and the camera was reloaded. These cameras costed just about a $1.00, while each roll of film was 10 cents. These cameras changed the photography world a lot. Just 10 years after the first Kodak was introduced, one photography journal estimated that over 1.5 million roll-film cameras had reached the hands of amateur shutterbugs. An amateur shutterbug is someone who is an advocate towards photography. 

During World War II, cameras were created more like they are today. The single lens allowed photographers more opportunity to focus and choose images that were in the distance through the zoom feature. The Polaroid camera was invented around the 1960s and this made it even easier for someone who had a photography hobby to have one sheet of paper and it could be pulled out and developed instantly after the photo was taken. Silicon chips, which came out in 1961 were added to the cameras and this automatically controlled the shutter speed, focus and lighting. Big break-through for the camera world. Around the 1980s nearly every home had at least one camera. It only took around a hundred years to get to this point. Today, the choices of camera for both the hobbist and professional are endless, from expensive for the professionals to the disposable camera for the traditional person. Digital cameras are also available. They produce images ready for Instagram or Facebook and are also instant so you can view the photo you just took on the LCD screen. Most expensive fancy cameras you don’t need cords you can simply download them straight to your phone from the camera.