A Brief History of Photography

History may be dry and boring at times. I’ll admit to almost falling asleep a time or two in class (almost being the key word there). But, I also believe it’s important. It’s good to know the facts, so we can tell where we started in order to understand where we are now and where we are headed. This applies to almost anything, including photography. To make this an easier read, I’ll try to condense as much as I can about photography’s history. Afterall, the title is A BRIEF History of Photography with extra emphasis on “brief”.

It all started with Niépce who produced the first successful photo in 1826. It was a view of the courtyard from an upper window at his country estate. The exposure time took about eight hours, which is why we can see the sun lighting both sides of the building.

DaguerreotypeThe daguerreotype was produced about 10 years later by Daguerre (you can tell he was super creative by his originality in naming it…). The daguerreotype lessened exposure time dramatically to only 30 minutes. However, the results were not permanent when the print was exposed to light. It took him three years to figure out the solution which ended up being table salt. The salt dissolved the unexposed silver iodide.

The french government then bought Daguerre’s process and made it “free to the world.” However, because of the lengthy exposure, portraiture was still not possible. Experimentations begun in Europe and the United States. In Vienna, Petzval developed a portrait lens that was about 20 times faster, and Voigtländer reduced its size to make it transportable. It was around 1840 that exposure time was reduced even more and varied between 1 and 3 minutes. Within the mid-1800’s, photography societies were being formed and popularity of considering photography as an aesthetic medium rose.

Mt. Ansel Adams, Lyell Fork

Mt. Ansel Adams, Lyell Fork

Fast forwarding through other developments and into the 20th century, photographers moved from wanting to make their photos look like paintings to make them look more like photographs (who knew they would want photographs to actually look like photographs?!). Landscapes became widely popular, like Ansel Adams and his specialty in capturing areas in the western wilderness such as Yosemite National Park. Likewise, experimental approaches, documentary photography, and photojournalism were also on the rise. It was also in the early 1900’s that color photography was introduced by Auguste and Louis Lumière.

While this most certainly isn’t all there is on photography’s history, you can check out a more in depth history here. There is also a section on contemporary photography that is a cool read.

This is my final post so thank you all who have stuck with me till the end.


I bid you ado.


Dwight_The Office

Dwight_The Office

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