Table of Contents
- 1 A Brief History of Photography- The Photography Timeline
- 1.1 History Of Photography Timeline at a Glance
- 1.2 Early Experiments
- 1.3 The Evolution of the Camera
- 1.4 The Revolution of Medium and Techniques
- 1.4.1 Negative to Positive Process
- 1.4.2 Wet Plate Process
- 1.4.3 Tintype
- 1.4.4 Dry Plates
- 1.4.5 Flexible Roll Film
- 1.4.6 First Color Photography
- 1.4.7 Development of Motion Pictures
- 1.4.8 Digital Photography
- 1.4.9 Other Major Techno Developments
- 1.4.10 Different Genres of Photography
- 1.4.11 Portraiture
- 1.4.12 Photojournalism
- 1.4.13 Landscape and Architectural Photography
- 1.4.14 Social Photography
- 1.5 Key Contributors to the Photography
- 1.6 Development of Contemporary Photography
A Brief History of Photography- The Photography Timeline
Aren't those black and white photos create nostalgia? The photographs from the past is a powerful and authentic way to discover the lifestyle of our ancestors. And though the art and technology have come a long way, it is the history of photography that keeps our curious spirits high.
Whether you are a novice photographer or a selfie enthusiast, finding the historic connections of capturing timeless moments will definitely interest you.
Today, photography is one of the largest growing hobbies in the world. And with highly-calibrated hardware, taking quality photos from cameras, phones or tablets is even faster than the blink of an eye.
However, not everyone knows how this culture-influential art has been invented and developed over time. Photographs in past were the reflection of life that the people in different eras live and breathe. The journey of photography is fascinating and demands to go into great details. Therefore, we have tried to take a step back in history to figure out the highlights and milestone developments of this scientific art.
P.S. - Do you know that the principle elements of photography are still same? While we talk about the history of photography in this article, you should also learn the basics of photography to feel more familiar with terms and developments in this niche.
History Of Photography Timeline at a Glance
400 BC - Mozi, the founder of ‘Mohism’, was a Chinese mathematician and inventor who explained the inverted nature of image in camera obscura.
300 BC - Aristotle was credited of explaining the theory behind obscura goes to this great Greek philosopher. He explained how a ray passing through a hole in one wall will project the image of whatever comes in its path on the opposite wall.
Abd El Kamir was although unaware of the camera obscura, his contribution is immense as he discovered Photosensitive Emulsion or Silver Nitrate.
1490 - Leonardo Da Vinci, a talented Italian painter had described and illustrated the functioning of Obscura during Renaissance. Vinci combined the behaviour of light with geometrical laws. In fact he is perceived as the first to add a lens to the hole where light enters to get sharper images.
1600 - Gerolamo Cardano strongly recommended use of a biconvex disc with the hole for brighter images and improved vision.
1608 - Hans Lippershey this German-Dutch is believed to be the inventor of first telescope.
1611 - Johannes Kepler, this ace scientist created a system of convex and concave lenses to correct distortions and aberrations.
1668 - Issac Newton is considered as one of the greatest physicists of all time; he included glasses to the telescope and a visor.
1727 - Johan Heinrich Schulz , this German professor is best known to bring forth the fact that darkening of various substances mixed with silver nitrate in sunlight is due to light not heat as popularly believed.
1758 - John Dollond commercialized telescope with achromatic lenses.
1825 - Sir John Hershel coined the term photography and invented an Actionometer to measure the intensity of light.
1839 - Louis Daguerre the French artist is known for invention of ‘Daguerreotype’ process of photography.
1849 - William Henry Fox Talbot devised a process called ‘Calotype’ in which he used paper instead of metal sheets for photo prints and generated multiple negative copies.
1839 - Allophones Giroux developed first commercial Camera on the basis of ‘Daguerreotype’ weighing 54 kgs.
1850 - Louis Desire Blanquart Evrard invented the printing paper used with Albumen (egg white) for greater depth and contrast.
1852 - John Benjamin Dancer created the first stereoscopic camera of the history.
1854 - James Ambrose Cutting invented the ‘Ambrotype’ technique of direct printing in which one crystal with a wet collodion was bleached and then put on a black background which causes a silver image that looks like a positive.
1855 - Alphonse Poitevin created a carbon-print which allowed photography to develop their copies.
1859 - Thomas Sutton invented the ‘Sutton’, the first panoramic camera of the history.
Charles Harrison Invented the first wide-angle lens covering about 75 degrees.
1861 - James Clerk Maxwell proved that it was possible to realize colour photography using combination of Red, Green and Blue filters.
1869 - P.H. Emerson made landscape photography and is known as one of the first photographic naturalists.
1871 - Richard Leach Maddox Heralded the use of ‘Gelatine Silver’ as colloid and this technique was used until the arrival of digital photography.
1884 - George Eastman invents flexible, paper-based photographic film.
1903 - Louis and August Lumiere brothers invented the process of ‘Autochrome’ for achieving colour images.
1908 - A.A. Campbell developed an electric tube to record images that could be transmitted by cable and then played back on a CRT.
1913/14 - First 35 mm still camera is developed.
1914 - First feature film in colour released.
1915 - Paul Strand was the pioneer of new ‘Direct photography’ whose influence and style still exists even after 100 years.
1927 - Modern flash bulb is invented by GE (General Electric).
1932 - First light meter coupled combined with photoelectric cell is introduced.
1941 - Kodak introduces Kodacolor Negative film.
1942 - Electric photography (Xerography) is patented by Chester Carlson.
1948 - Polaroid Camera launched and marketed by Edwin Land.
1954 - High speed Tri-x film is introduced by Eastman Kodak.
1963 - Instant Colour film introduced by Polaroid.
1968 - First photograph of the earth taken from the moon.
1973 - One step instant photography launched by Polaroid.
1975 - Steven Sasson invents digital photography and makes first digital camera.
1978 - Konika introduces first point and shoot autofocus camera.
1980 - Sony demonstrates first camcorder for capturing moving pictures.
First professional electronic camera with semi automatic mode launched by Nixon.
1982 - First camera with autofocus (TTL) launched.
1985 - Pixar introduces the digital imaging processor.
1986 - Fuji develops first disposable camera.
1987 - First DSLR camera prototype launched by Eastman Kodak.
1988 - Photographic experts group created JPG file format.
1990 - Photo compact disc introduced as a medium of storage by Eastman Kodak.
1991 - Standard compression and codification format called JPEG created.
1994 - Appletake, the First friendly digital camera launched for consumers by Apple.
1995 - First digital camera with video making facility launched.
1996 - First Digital camera with LCD screen launched
1999 - Kyocera Corporation introduces first mobile phone with inbuilt camera.
2001 - First reflex camera with full frame sensor.
2004 - Kodak ceases production of film cameras.
2006 - Dalsa produces 111 megapixel CCD sensors, the highest of that time.
2009 - Fuji launches world’s first digital 3D camera with 3D printing capabilities.
2011 - Lytro launches first pocket sized consumer light field camera capable of refocusing after images being taken.
2014 - Aditya Khosla develops algorithm of photographic popularity.
Humans are very curious and creative. And that is why we are constantly evolving. We can never rest. Probably that is a reason why photography has reached its zenith in just two centuries since the modern discoveries. Invented in the 1830s, this scientific art came to limelight after ten years. But the idea was around us since 400 BC when the Chinese philosopher and inventor Mozi coined the camera obscura as the 'hidden treasure'. He then explained that the image in a camera looks inverted because light travels in a linear manner.
While Aristotle explained camera obscura in 300 BC, Abd el-Kamir the Arabian alchemist discovered the photosensitive emulsion despite having no idea of camera obscura.
The Dwan of Photography
A bit fast forward and we reached to the 16th century when an Italian scientist Giambattista Della Porta experimented and explained in detail the use of camera obscura with a lens. As the process was completely manual, the images created by most artists differ in quality depending on their drawing skills.
Alike the primitive camera, magic lanterns, and early projectors also gained popularity during this time. They use the same optical principles to project the images but the medium were glass slides and walls.
Here, it is important to mention the contribution of German anatomist Johann Heinrich Schulze. He actually gave a successful demonstration of silver salt darkening, the phenomenon discovered in 100 BC. This experiment in 1727 with the primitive camera laid the foundation of modern photography technology. However, the world had waited for another century to have a permanent image.
Meanwhile, the search for a mechanical process to produce images was continued in various parts of the world.
The First Photograph
While we will be discussing camera obscura in detail in next section, you must have figured out that this not-so-technical box has always been the base of every experiment.
Same in the case with the first recorded photograph the journey of which was started with an amateur French inventor Joseph Nicephore Niepce. To create heliographs he devised a method where an engraving was oiled to make it transparent. Niepce then placed it on a plate coated with a light-sensitive solution of bitumen and lavender oil. Exposing the setup to sunlight for several hours resulted in an accurate copy of the engraving.
Niepce continued his experiments of sun drawing or heliography onto stone, glass, zinc plates and finally pewter plates in 1826. This determined inventor finally produced the first successful photograph of nature by fitting a pewter plate in camera obscura and exposing it to sunlight for almost eight hours. This became the first recorded photo in history that did not fade quickly.
Although his images were underexposed and too weak to be etched, his experiments proved extremely helpful for future progress.
Daguerreotypes, emulsion plates and wet plates were other mediums developed parallel to Niepce's experiments in the mid to late 1800s.
According to historians, another Frenchman Louis Daguerre's process of fixing an image on a sheet of silver-plated copper was the first recorded practical process of photography. However, it took him almost 12 years to reduce the exposure time to 30 minutes from 8 hours.
In 1829, Daguerre and Niepce collaborated to improve Niepce's method. And after almost 10 years of extensive experiments followed by Niepce's death, Louis finally invented the method that became the forerunner of the modern film - Daguerreotype.
In this method, a silver-coated copper plate was exposed to iodine vapor and then to light. Later, it was bathed in a silver chloride solution that resulted in creating a lasting image that didn't fade even when exposed to light.
Experiments went on in every corner of the world to find the best possible medium for permanent images that last forever. In this series came the emulsion plates or wet plates that were far less expensive then daguerreotypes and need only a few seconds exposure. The qualities made them suitable for portrait photography.
While we will talk more about these remarkable plates in later sections, it is important to mention about photogenic drawings here as they played an important role in early development.
Special thanks to COOPH for this video
Let's go back to the early 1800s to track back the invention of photogenic drawings. It was the time when Thomas Wedgwood, son of famous potter Josiah Wedgwood, recorded images on a silver nitrate sensitized paper or leather. Though he could record the outline of the objects, they were not permanent.
In 1833, a French-born photographer Hercules Florence worked with silver salt sensitized paper to produce the prints which he called 'photography'. Unfortunately, his contribution was lost until 1973 because the experiments were done in Brazil while the world focused on Europe.
Here, it is important to mention the name of William Henry Fox Talbot, a scientist from the University of Cambridge. When failed to record his scientific observations even with camera lucida, Talbot invented another technique. He soaked the paper alternately in sodium chloride and silver nitrate solutions that resulted in the production of silver chloride in the fibers of the paper. When exposed to light, it divided the silver that was rather dark in tone.
However, the method wasn't accurate enough until William's astronomer friend Sir John Herschel advised fixing the negative with sodium hyposulphite and then coating with was before printing.
In January 1839, when the news of Daguerreotype reached England, Talbot rushed publication of his work and explained the technique to the Royal Society.
While the early experiments showed the bright path for photography's future, they were considered threatening for many artists who thought photography will kill painting. Whatever it was, we are glad the thinkers have shown a keen interest in those experiments else we would have never been able to enjoy the beauty of the world today.
The Evolution of the Camera
Just as Rome was not built in a day, the cameras we use today have a long and interesting history. And to your surprise, the primitive cameras look fairly crude when compared with today's digital cameras and camera phones. As you want to dig deep the history of photography timeline, it is crucial to look through the many phases of evolution of camera.
The Early Cameras
It all started with camera Obscura, a large box that use pinhole or lens to project images upside down. The theory of Obscura was proposed centuries ago by ancient Chinese and Greeks, however the first camera Obscura was created by Al-Haytham in 1000 AD to study optics.
Later in 1558, Giovanni Batista Della Porta used the device for scientific drawings but the first protable camera obscura was envisioned in 1685 by Johann Zahn.
And though Joseph Nicephore Niepce was credited for the first photograph in history, it was Alexander Wolcott who in 1840 patented the first camera that was possible to click candid photos that did not fade over time.
Followed Neipce, Daguerreotype and Calotype invented by Louis Daguerre and Henry Fox Talbot respectively were two major attempts to improve the photographic mechanisms. The invention of dry plate was another milestone development in the evolution of cameras. And it was this healthy competition of creating better device that consistently improved the cameras, making them smaller yet more effecient.
The list of primitive cameras is long but there are few that scored a high prestige in history for being the first of their kind or for turning the face of the entire research.
Camera Obscura: The Ancient Technique
First introduced by Mozi and therotically described by Aristotle more than 2,300 years ago, Camera Obscura was the primitive technique know to mankind. The phenomenon derived its name from Latin where Camera means a chamber or vaulted room and Obscura means dark.
Thus, camera obscura was a dark room used to project pictures. The first recorded use of Camera Obscura was not for photography but to study optics and solar eclipse.
Working of Camera Obscura
This ancient optical device in its most basic form was a dark room with a hole in the wall. When the light enters the room through the wall, it creates the image of the surface it crosses while traveling. The image thus created inside the room was mirrored. It tend to be left to right and upside down. However, such images were able to capture the colors of the objects. As light travels in rectilinear propagation of light, the size of the hole play an important role in deciding the quality of the projected image.
A small hole projects a dim but sharp image while the large one creates a brighter but less focused picture. In early stages of development, this pheonmenon was used by astronomers for observing sun and study optics without damaging their eyes.
While the primitive camera obscura was a dark room, those developed later were dark wooden boxes with a hole. It was in 1550 when a man named Cardano replaced the pinhole with a lens. He described the working and effect of lens in his book 'De Subtilitate Libri.
Placing the lens increased the aperature size, resulting in a far brighter picture. Although, it was required to move the lense or viewing surface to improve the focus, Cardano's experiment proved a major step in improvisation of the camera.
Experiments continued in various parts of the world to improve the image quality and to find some way for fixing the image. In fact, with better manufacturing facilities, the cost of lenses decrease while the quality increased. These cameras were at the pinnacle of popularity in Victorian era. And in 1826, Joseph Nicephore Niepce eventually got some success in taking the first recorded photo with his version of camera obscura. However, it took over a decade for scientists and inventors to find a way of fixing the images for longer.
Daguerreotype Camera: The First Commercial Camera
After working in close association with Niepce and post his death, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre shared his prototype with French Academy of Sciences. His camera was a commercial success soon after the announcement in 1839. Daguerreotype camera has much reduced exposure time and the images developed were made permanent wuth sodium thiosulphate. These camera remain popular for many decades and many family archives still have them.
Kodak No. 1 By Eastman: The First Consumer Camera
In subsequent years, many other types of plate methods became popular. However, photography was still only the professionals' cup of tea. It was in 1889 when George Eastman invented the Kodak No. 1 camera that photography moved out of studios. Preloaded with 100 shots, this large box with a winding key on top and a lens in fronthada price tag of $25. Consumers had to sent the camera to Kodak to develop the photos and reload the camera. This costs additional $10 but it completely changed the face of photography and continued an all new era of modern photography.
Other Notable Cameras in History
1840 - Alexander Wolcott got the first American patent in photography for his camera. He improved Dauerre's camera by using a mirror instead of the lens.
1861 - Thomas Sutton designed the first panoramic camera that used the wide-angle lens to capture a field of view wider than that of the human eye. This camera increased the creative potential of the artists by helping them to create a more evocative landscape. There were only 30 of these cameras produced then.
1900 - After Kodak, Eastman invented the first long-running, simple and inexpensive snapshot camera named 'Brownie'. It was a simple cardboard box camera with a simple meniscus lens that took 2 1/4-inch square picture on 117 roll film.
1913 - Another prominent invention in the evolution of cameras was the Raisecamera or travel camera. This very light, folded camera with small dimensions quickly became the favorite of travel photographers.
1914 - Raisecamera gave way to the invention of first 35 mm still camera that is also called candid camera. It was developed by Oskar Barnack of German Leica Camera. Later, Ernst Leitz expended the basic design and idea and thus came the first successful and mass-produced 35mm camera in 1924.
1920 - Dwan of Reflex cameras.
1930 - Single Lens Reflex (SLR) camera was introduced. This camera used a mirror anda prism system to let the viewer accurately see the image. It has one optical light path in contras to the previous cameras that had two paths.
1948 - Edwin H. Land revolutionized the photography industry by inventing the first Polaroid camera that compressed the traditional darkroom process into an integrated film unit and further producing the final photo in just few seconds following the click. Thus, Polaroid made instant photography possible.
1969 - Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith invented the first successful imaging technology using a digital sensor. In 2009, they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for this contribution.
1981 - Sony launched the first digital electronic still camera 'Sony Mavica'.
1986 - First disopsable camera also called 'single-use camera' was also introduced by Fuji.
1991 - The first professional and commercial digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera was launched by Kodak. It had a 1.3 megapixel sensor.
2000 - J-Phone introduced the first camera phone.
The Revolution of Medium and Techniques
The ability to record an inexhaustible amount of detail made photography a preferred choice over other picture-making methods such as painting and drawing. Despite a series of failed efforts in capturing the images initially, the potential of photography was unquestioned. Inventors were continuously experimenting to improve the technique and medium.
While Daguerreotype was immensely popular, the need for better medium helped the experimenters pushing their limits and the results were impressive. We have already explained Daguerre's invention in the previous section. Let's check the further developments in medium improvement and how it made the difference in the brief history of photography.
Negative to Positive Process
The images produced by daguerreotype were unique and can't be reproduced. This major drawback made the process very costly.
It was Henry Fox Talbot who finally succeeded in overcoming this problem. This English botanist used a silver-salt solution sensitized paper which he exposed to light. The background of the image produced was black while the subject was rendered in shades of gray. He called it a negative image.
Talbot used this paper negative to make contact prints by reversing the light and shadows to create a detailed picture. He discovered that the gallic acid he had used in the process actually develops a latent image.
This significantly reduced camera exposure to 1minute and ultimately revolutionized the photography on paper. Talbot patented his discovery 1841 and named it 'Calotype', means beautiful picture in Greek.
Wet Plate Process
In 1851, the English sculptor Frederick Scott Archer developed a new technique that was 20 times faster than the previous methods. He named it Wet Plate Process. In this process, Collodion, a viscous nitrocellulose solution that was prepared using alcohol and ether as a base, was used to make negatives. Light sensitive silver salts were used to coat the glass plate. These wet plates were very effective in making the paper prints then.
From this invention, photographic development had been taken to the advanced level as the light-sensitive metal could be coated on glass sheets instead of papers. However, there were several disadvantages of the wet plate negatives. They had to be developed so quickly so that image can be printed before the emulsion dried.
So, in the field, photographers had to carry a portable darkroom with them. Despite the fact that the solution was unequally sensitive to different colors of the spectrum, wet plate process remained in practice for almost 30 years.
First known as ferrotype or melainotype, tintypes were thin metal plates coated with photosensitive chemicals. The metal plates were supposed to yield the image based on the light intensity and exposure. In 1856, tintype process was patented by American scientist Hamilton Smith who used iron over copper to produce positive images.
As these were easy to make and inexpensive, they became a popular way to present the folk art throughout the 19th century. Moreover, they also became a popular form of street photography.
All the process until 1870 required to carry a portable darkroom to develop the positive images which were practically not possible and safe. On the other hand, it was also reducing the scope of photography. In 1871, Richard Leach Maddox, an English physician proposed the idea of suspending silver bromide in a gelatin emulsion.
By 1878, dry plates coated with gelatin containing silver salts started producing in a factory. This process marked the beginning of modern photography. Now photographers no longer needed any portable darkroom and they could get their photographs developed by technicians even after days or months.
Flexible Roll Film
Unlike the dry plate and wet plate films, a new version of photographic films was introduced in 1889 by George Eastman. These films were flexible, unbreakable and could be rolled. And they made box cameras a reality. In these flexible rolls, emulsion coated on a cellulose nitrate film base and they can be embedded into a camera.
Variety of medium-format film standards were used in the cameras but these nitrate-based films had a major problem. They were flammable and tend to decay over time. So by 1920s, manufacturers switched to fireproof and more durable celluloid base.
Later, more stable and flexible triacetate films came to the market. These were safer and fireproof. While this technology was popular until the 1970s, manufacturers started using polyester polymers for gelatin base films.
First Color Photography
Transmutation of nature's colors into different shades of black and white remained a major drawback of early photography experiments. Photographers until late 1800 used to employ painters who could hand-tint daguerreotypes and calotypes. Artists like Franz von Lenbach used to paint images projected onto a canvas. Similarly, hand-colored woodcuts showing scenic views and daily life were popular in Japan.
However, all these practices were very time consuming and costly. Also, the color shades often vary from the original ones. Later, in the 1880s, color prints made from hand-colored photographs called photochromes became trendy.
On the other hand, plastic film base became more popular as they were more stable and not hazardous like celluloid base plates. By the early 1940s, companies like Kodak and Agfa started selling films with dye-coupled colors where a chemical process connects three layers of dye to create an apparent color image. Thus, first color photography gained the pace.
Development of Motion Pictures
The world was amazed by the multi-faceted development of still photography. People were happy to have a cheaper and more stable method to treasure the significant moments of life.
However, the thing that lacked was motion. The history of photography dates mostly portraits either standing or sitting. In landscape photography as well, only still things have a good visibility.
No one knows how to shoot moving things or how they look in a photo until Eadweard Muybridge of California showed the amazing photos of a moving horse. He used a series of cameras arranged side by side opposite a reflecting screen and released the shutters of the cameras by breaking the threads attached.
This way Muybridge captured sequential photographs of the horse when it walked, trot or galloped. The pictures definitely amazed the world and opened the doors to another chapter of photography - motion pictures.
Today, photography is just a simple click. Everything is digital and automated. And while this is one of the longest periods of evolution, it took a lot of time, energy and efforts to reach this level. Here is a brief of the developmental stages of digital photography.
1969 - Digital photography came into limelight when Bell Labs developed the first charged-couple device (CCD) that converts light into an electronic signal.
1975 - Kodak developed the first camera that captured an image in more than 20 seconds and created a digital image. It used a cassette recorder to store the data.
1984 - Canon demonstrated the first digital camera.
1990 - Dycam Model 1, the first digital camera sold in the US. It then costs $600.
1991 - Nikon F3, first digital SLR was introduced.
By the year 2004, digital cameras became a trend and today the technology has gone far beyond our imagination.
Other Major Techno Developments
In early times, Lycopodium powder was used in flash lamps to produce artificial light during photography.
• In 1887, Adolf Miethe and Johannes Gaedicke invented the flashlight powder.
• The open lamps were later replaced by flashbulbs that contain magnesium filaments and oxygen gas.
• Austrian Paul Vierkotter invented the first modern flashbulb. It had magnesium coated wire in an evacuated glass globe.
• In 1930, Johannes Ostermeier of Germany patented the first commercially available photoflash bulb. It was named Vacublitz.
• Another flashbulb developed during this period was Sashalite. It was made by General Electric.
• Photographic filters that are an important supply in photography was invented by Frederick Wratten of England.
• He was also known for establishing the first photographic supply company Wratten and Wainwright in 1878.
Different Genres of Photography
With the advancement of technology, photography becomes a very strong medium of communication. We have seen how the cameras and medium have evolved over time, and how this evolution has improved our expression over time. Today is the age of the smartphone.
Shooting and sharing pictures of interest everyday just take a few seconds. However, just like the technology, the genres of photography also took a significant time in shaping themselves. There were no selfies but portraiture before. Let's check out few most important genres of photography.
The portrait was one of the most popular genres of photography. As inventors introducing new and better mediums, practitioners were improving their skills. While the fineness of initial portraits much relied on accessories and retouching, photographers such as Gaspard-Felix Tournachon and Julia Margaret Cameron broke the previous standards.
In contrast to the early photos where the background used to be cluttered, these photographers choose a plain black background with diffused daylight to ensure entire focus should be on the salient features of the sitter. They also used lenses with extreme focal length to get large close-ups.
As soon as daguerreotype was announced by the French government as a powerful know method to capture photos, news photography became a favorite of camera artists. Despite the difficulties with a medium, photojournalism gained fame amongst masses. Magazines started publishing woodcuts or lithographs with a byline 'From a daguerreotype'
War photography was a prominent photojournalism in the bygone era. It began during the time of war between England, Russia, and Turkey when Roger Fenton was sent to the war zone to provide visual evidence for the condition of the soldiers in the area. Roger produced the first large-scale camera documentation of a war despite the difficulties of developing wet-collodion plates. He produced 360 photographs during his stay.
Landscape and Architectural Photography
Landscape and monuments were a favorite subject of artists due to several factors. One major reason for documentation photography was the fight between western European powers over controlling the areas of North Africa and Asia. As British empire was one of the largest and strongest, the British photographers such as Roger Fenton, Charles Clifford, Robert Macpherson and George Washington Wilson photographed various regions and nations of the empire.
What was a way to show power to the rulers later became a major source of evidence to study the history. Other reasons of landscape and architectural photography were to satiate antiquarian curiosity, to provide commodity to travelers, provide detail information for restoration, to supply plenty of inspiration and material to artists and to help preserve the history in its original form.
This was another popular genre of photography that covered the social life of Americans and Europeans. different photographers have their specific reason for social photography. Few did it for pure documentation of social life while others used it for fundraising, spreading awareness, raising concern for a cause and to document the history for future.
Key Contributors to the Photography
Al Hazen (Ibn Al Haytham)
Considered as the ‘Father of Optics’, Al Hazen was born a thousand year ago in Basra, now in Iraq. A mathematician, astronomer and physicist, he made significant contributions to the principles of optics and visual perceptions.
Contribution of Al Hazen
- Through his marvellous work called ‘Book of Optics’ or ‘Kitab Al Manzir’, he discussed the experiments about the nature of light including how light splits into its constituent colors, reflects off mirror and bends while moving from one medium to another.
- Al Hazen identified the principles underlying the photography when he built the first camera obscura on record.
- His revelations’ of photographic principles gave way to the invention of modern era cameras.
An American photographer and modern art promoter, he was instrumental in making the photography an accepted art form. He is also known for his well known art galleries where he worked to introduced many Avant-grade European artists to the USA. Alfred stressed that, apart from the painters, photographers are also and should be considered as artists.
Contribution of Alfred Stieglitz
- He demonstrated that the quality of photographs not only depend on the content of picture but also depends on the conceptual representation of the photographer himself.
- A lot can be manipulated by the photographer through the lenses and style.
- Eventually, due to his restless efforts, photographs of different exhibitions started to be judged by photographers apart from artists.
Considered as a master of candid photography, Bresson was a French humanist photographer. As a pioneer of street photography and photojournalism, he is a prime reason of popularity of this subject in media and fine arts.
Contribution of Henry Cartier-Bresson
- Having collected great photographic experiences from around the world, Bresson told the world that photography can be a solution to fix the eternity.
- When his first photographic exhibition took place in NY, people were spell bound to see the newer and fresher dimensions presented by Bresson.
Felix Nadar is a French caricaturist and journalist in his early life. Later when the era of photography started on, become a photographer. He is especially remembered for contributing an important factor into photography- using artificial lights in photography. An interesting fact is, Nadar was a friend of famous fiction writer Joules Verne, and thus two friends were inspired by each other.
Contribution of Felix Nadar
Apart from the successful application of artificial light, Nadar was also famous for another great concept. Portrait photography, which is one of the most populated sectors of the modern photographic industry and history of photography- was firstly introduced by Nadar. By that time, Nadar was known as close friends of many famous personalities like Joule Verne, peter Kropotkin, Alexander Dumas and George Sands.
Nadar introduced portrait photography with these sort famous personalities, and eventually the concept of portrait photography spread out like wildfire.
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
Considered as one of the fathers of photography, this French inventor is considered as a pioneer in the field. He achieved the first successful fixation of an image produced with one camera obscura.
Contribution of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
- Niépce is remembered for developing a technique called ‘Heliography’ meaning ‘Sun Drawing’
- He developed the first photograph
- Developed a technique used to create world’s oldest surviving product of a photographic procedure,
- Know to create a print made from photoengraved printing plate.
- In late years, he even used a primitive camera to develop the oldest surviving photo of a real world scene.
Development of Contemporary Photography
Photography is definitely an amazing scientific art form that not only changed the way we see history but also provide us the vision to see the future. It was the unconventional approach of thinkers, inventors and photographers in history that gave us a clearer path to walk. Contemporary photography gained pace after World War II when pictorial documentation became integral and people were getting more detail oriented.
- American photographer Eliot Porter's nature photography offered an unparallel level of nuance. His study of birds and nature was highly acclaimed for its scientific and aesthetic value.
- In 1953, Ernst Haas, an Austrian photojournalist challenged the monochrome photojournalism by using colors in his photo-essay 'New York'.
- Abstract Expressionist art movement started in the USA after World War II when the country was in a prosper and peaceful state.
- By 1960s, contemporary photography spread to various parts of Asia.
- Picture magazines were gaining popularity in the 1970s with the advent of television.
- By the end of 19th Century, the photography medium changed to digital cameras.
- in 1990, the first version of Adobe Photoshop was launched.
- New genres such as wildlife photography, fashion, and celebrity photography gained pace.
- The marvelous science fiction films such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Planet of Apes and more demonstrated the advancement of motion pictures.
- In 2007, Apple launched its first iPhone, the first smartphone that changed the way of picture taking and sharing.
- Governmental, commercial and military use of photography for surveillance and business raised a question about civil liberty and the effect of the camera on it.
- Today, photography isn't just an art form but a very strong and evident visual medium of communication. It is hard to predict the future of photography but the history was definitely very interesting and inspiring.