Photography and Its History


The history of photography goes back to the 1820s when the first permanent photographs were made by Joseph Nicephore Niepce. It was the age of mechanical reproduction of photography. The important point is that the invention of photography not only stands as one of the most significant events of the Industrial Age, but it also represents the first analog medium. The photograph draws its metaphorical expression directly from the object, typically from some part of its physical characteristics (Nickel 43). Photography changed the world and opened new opportunities for the film industry and TV. The process of photography was based on transformation inherently limited by physical phenomena reflected in the photographic image. Photography is seen as “art” rhetorically grafted onto a print by a photographer, thus photography can never eliminate the photograph’s factual connection with reality.

Pre-photography age

Photography has enjoyed a reputation around the globe since 1839, when information of its first widely successful method, the daguerreotype, reached the USA from France. Since this time, a huge number of photographic formats have entered and passed the industry, recording it for posterity, lessening the world while expanding its horizons, and feeding contradictory individual needs for scientific information, romantic diversion, and comfortable home truths (Nickel 43). Modern considerations of the photographic image underline its status as a proxy reality; the image, could people but learn to read it, might expose the social construction of the world intrinsic in the mind of the artist, in the minds of its depicted objects, maybe even in the minds of its viewers. The next stage of development was connected with the calotype process founded in 1840 by Talbot (Bolton 98).

These accounts about photography and its meaning reveal that the society at large was enamored of the “mirror with a memory,” particularly, as refinements in the early 1840s shortened exposure time and superior image quality. Despite the changes, landscapes and cityscapes were not popular among photographers, thus portraiture was the most popular subject issue of daguerreotypes. The photography galleries, often fairly complex, opened in major cities; there were eighty-six in New York City in 1853. In smaller towns and villages, itinerant daguerreotypists also found eager visitors (Smith 91). To protect the fragile images from discoloring and scratch, daguerreotypes were covered with a brass mat and glass and inserted in richly tooled leather cases, padded with silk or velvet. It was a popular place for daguerreotypes in brooches, medallions, and watches. Depending on size and rivalry, daguerreotype portraits were from 25 cents to 50 dollars; the regular price usually fluctuated from about 2 dollars to 7-8 dollars.

In the middle of the 1950s, Frederick Scott Archer founded the collodion process. The new approach allowed a photographer to make negatives composed of light-sensitive collodion on glass, obtaining a more exact image more quickly than had earlier negative processes. Ambrotypes on glass, from about 1854, and melainotypes or ferrotypes (tintypes), dating from 1856, were possible because of Archer’s collodion process. Until the end of the 20th century, the albumen paper print made from a collodion negative was the main and the only process in photography. Thus, it is possible to mention the invention of L. D. Blanquart-Evrard who developed a process of printing photographs on slim paper coated with albumen (Smith 91). Critics admit that during the 1850s, about three million daguerreotypes were produced each year. Photography of the populace soon benefited from additional inventions. People were attracted by the fact that every photograph was unique; although photograph copies were made, so the mass production of such images had to await not only a negative-positive system of picture-making but also an adequate and very detailed image to rival the accuracy of the photograph (Bolton 54).

“Boudoir” prints, “promenade” prints, and “imperial” prints appeared in the 1870s, opened a new approach to foster photography of the people. Photography by the people can be dated to the rise of unpaid exchange clubs in the 1850s in Europe and the USA. These small communities of people had enough funds and enough technical training to make images of friends and the environment. But the high point of photography as practiced by the majority of people is more practically dated to 1888 when George Eastman founded the Kodak camera with the slogan “You Push the Button, We Do the Rest” (Smith 91; Hulick and Marshall 101).

The development of photography

The Kodak era opened new opportunities for the photography and film industry. The uniqueness of the camera was that it was moveable; it could be held in one’s hand and weighed 11/2 pounds (Bolton 103). People bought such cameras loaded with a roll of film that allowed the buyer to make 100 circular photographs 21/2 inches in diameter. When the film was exposed, the Kodak camera was returned to the shop, where it was unloaded, reloaded with a new film, and returned to the buyer along with the images that had been developed from the previous roll. As Eastman wrote in the Kodak manual:

Photography is thus brought within the reach of every human being who desires to preserve a record of what he sees. Such a photographic notebook… enables the fortunate possessor to go back by the light of his fireside to scenes which would otherwise fade from the memory and be lost” (Bolton 43).

The Kodak innovation, together with its first roll of film, cost only 25 dollars; processing the exposed roll and loading the new roll cost about 10 dollars. By October 1889, Kodak was receiving 70 cameras and handing out 7 000 negatives a day. By the beginning of 1900, 50 different cameras had been marketed (Bolton 54). One of them, the “Brownie” was launched particularly for children to use; it cost 1 dollar and took 6 pictures on a film that cost 50 cents to buy and develop. Over 100,000 such types of Kodak cameras were sold within a year in the UK and the USA. Different variations of its basic design kept it the most accepted roll-film box camera, and it was popular in one form or another basically until the arrival of the Instamatic camera in 1963 (Bolton 56).

The 20th century opened new opportunities for phototherapy as it invented new types of materials and created industrial manufacturing. In the 20th century, photography of the populace has continued despite the enormous increase in photography by the people, and despite the attack by fine-art artists on studio portraiture at the turn of the century. The Photo-Secession Exhibition in 1902 and the opening of the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession in 1905 were the conclusion of an age of increasing hostility between those who wanted to establish photography as an art-science, those who practiced photography less seriously as a leisure pursuit in the Kodak manner, and those whose business goals were supreme (Bolton 105). In general, while the imaginative photographers whom Alfred Stieglitz chose to welcome to the Photo-Secession evolved into a small group of confidants, photographers of the people continued to hold to business-winning conventions of portraiture. Though tenderly focused objects of photography replaced the excessive artificial (Bolton 98).

The uniqueness of phototherapy was that it continued to plan for revelations of “character” and continued to create official family portraits, which reasserted solidarity and permanence in the face of social change (Bolton 105; Tandeciarz 135). During the same period, phototherapy cultivated their role in recording money of channel: birthdays of children, graduations, weddings, and anniversaries. in the meantime, people who saw photography as hobby only continued to look to magazines of part-time photography, such as American Photography, Photo Era, and Photo-Beacon, for advice on taking pictures. As snaps hooters, these people continued to treat photography an entertaining, increasingly suitable hobby (Bolton 105).

The miscellaneous innovations of 20th photographic expertise have attempted to cater to contradictory goals. The most important of these innovations was the Leica camera marketed in 1925 and fully redesigned in 1932. Proposed as a camera for professional artists and “professional” amateurs, its innovative, compacted design provided freedom of movement, while its 35-millimeter negative and exceptional lens produced detailed objects’ images (Tandeciarz145). As a comparatively expensive camera, it developed a market between the largest number of casual snap=shooters and professional artists. While the inexpensive box camera developed over the years into the Instamatic, the well-organized design of the Leica spurred other producers to manufacture the Contax, the Exakta, the Nikon, and other less expensive products such as 35millimeter cameras such as the Argus C–3, and photography by the people extended further across the spectrum of economic and social groups and societies (Bolton 41).

Color in photography

The next step in the development of photography was marked by the invention of color images. Color photography had its first achievement in 1907 when the Lumière brothers (Auguste Marie, Louis Nicolas, and Louis Jean) marketed their Autochrome process, which produced exceptional positive transparency, as did Kodachrome film, first marketed in 1935 (Bolton 5). In 1941, Kodacolor film appeared; this negative film allowed an unlimited number of positives to be made. In contrast to this age, modern photographers produce mostly color transparencies or positive prints. The commercial desire to increase photography by the people has not only spurred the creation of various color processes but has also led to more and more simplified, automatic cameras. Photoelectric exposure meters were available in sales in the 1930s and included in some cameras in 1938. Today, different types of fully automatic cameras have given new meaning to the original Kodak slogan, “You Push the Button, We Do the Rest” (Bourdieu, 43). Following Smith (2000):

From the time of its invention (by the foremost color chemist D. A. Spencer) Yveonde used the new Vivex color process. [3] The technique, patented in 1928 and 29 by Color Photographs Ltd of Willesdon, used tri-color separation negatives to produce a pigment image of extreme intensity. Three glass quarter-plate negatives were pulled behind filters, and after an exposure of a couple of seconds, they were marked by the photographer to differentiate red (magenta), blue (cyan), and yellow (91).

The next step in development of photography was made in 1947. Duringt his year, Dr. Edwin Land promulgated the development of his instant-picture process, and a year later the first Polaroid-Land camera went on sale. In 1956, the one-millionth Polaroid camera was sold to consumers. Polaroid’s series of innovative products, such as shorter development times, instant color film (in 1963), development outside the camera (in 1972), and automatic, ultrasonic focusing (in 1978), have all allowed making photography by the people simpler and more attractive to consumers and, some would say, as dramatic as the original daguerreotype procedure (Caffin 98).

“Atkins has been classified as a somewhat straightforward amateur photographer, but, in the mariner of Ruskin’s and more recently Yveonde’s comments on color, Atkins’s cyanotypes make us re-consider the question of what is gained and lost, or rather, precisely what is represented by, photographic monochrome, by the potentiality of monochromatic schemes in addition to that which will become the ubiquitous one of ‘black and white’. B” (Smith 91).

Till the end of the 1990s, photography of and by the people continued to occupy a central position in mass culture. The regular number of photographs taken per family a year increased from 54 in 1963 to 73 in 1974, to 96 in 1978, to 128 in 1982. Almost 3,400 drive-in photofinishing agencies were operating in 1979; their annual growth rate averages 20%. Magazines catering to amateur photographers were popular. Modern Photography (over 650,000 circulations) and Popular Photography (over 850,000 circulations) offer their readers every month a variety of photography news, apparatus testing, and picture-making tips (Hulick and Marshall 62). The industry of studio photography remained mainly formal, but it was able to adopt the open styles and informal poses that some photography innovations fostered. Photography by the people reflected the charm with technical innovations and the wish for images and revelations that accompanied the rise of accepted photography in the 19th century (Bolton 75). After the film was exposed, both the camera and the roll were taken to a photo processor. A century ago, Kodak returned 100 prints, as well as the first camera loaded with a new film. Today, one gets 24 prints, and the camera is thrown away: for about 8 dollars, A person again buys a new camera already loaded with film. Mot reusable Kodak cameras appeared to occupy a position on the leading market of the waste phenomenon in modern life. It was the responsibility of current and future generations to determine the full meaning of this phenomenon and to determine whether the images such cameras produce could tell society more about the environment than plastic buffalo humps have thus far revealed (Azoulay 38)..

Digital Cameras

The new age of photography came at the end of the 1990s when the first digital camera appeared on the market. These cameras use a so-called change-cou0led device developed in 1969. Kodak was a pioneer in this field and developed the first megapixel sensor (1986) (Hulick and Marshall 43). These cameras became available to mass consumers only at the end of the 1990s when mass production was organized. Marketed as an ideal substitute for luxurious equipment when taking photographs on sandy beaches, around saltwater, or on ski slopes or rafting trips, the digital cameras are bought with the chip already loaded, as was the case with the original cameras in 1888 (Azoulay 38).

Art of photography

However, the riches and meaning afforded the critics in photography have only in recent times begun to be harvested. While the industry of “fine art” or “creative” photography has profited most from this critical thought, the stubborn billions of images produced by less experienced photographers have proved difficult to reduce to patterns of order or meaning, and “popular” photography has thus suffered from proportional disregard. To be considered in the region of mass culture, photography must at least engage a large number of people (Bolton 95). It may be helpful to divide accepted photography into three groups: the photography of the people, by the people, and for the people. In its earliest years, the production of photographs by large numbers of people was impractical. Most were without the essential technical information and financial capital, and the medium itself was investigational and unpredictable (Hulick and Marshall 87). Hitherto, beginning with the daguerreotype and long-lasting in subsequent types such as the tintype and the carte de visite, the snap drew thousands of people to representation studios, whether complicated establishments on Broadway in New York City in the 1850s or temporary quarters set up by traveling artists in different social places across the USA. The inheritance of this consumerist spirit lives today in the moveable landscapes and floodlights of the nearby K-Mart. One type of accepted photography is, then, used by commercial artists: it is photography of the people (Bolton 76). Following sSith (2000)

Not only do the invention and early development of photography coincide with the prevalence of the figure of the double in fictional texts and with the development of psychoanalytic theories, but it intersects with and, in fundamental ways, impacts upon such discourses (91).

The second type–photography by the people–stipulates those who take their own pictures but who are comparatively unqualified photographers. These are the snap-shooters, the festival or vacation artists, those who are interested mainly in recording an event or maybe in capturing a “pretty” image (Bolton 98). Though the external limits of this social group involve more serious photographers and artists who join photography clubs and possibly develop their own companies and photographs, the main number of people in this group are likely to have somebody else (or the camera itself in modern “instant” photography) make the photograph they have taken. In general, photography by the people underlines the work of mainly untutored photographers (Azoulay 38).


In sum, the history of photography suggests that this field of science and industrial manufacturing was closely connected with scientific developments and innovations that appeared during different historical periods. Changes and discoveries in science led to new approaches and methods of photography and new ways of seeing the world. During all historical periods, photography stipulates the empire of photomechanically produced images for information exchange of all kinds. Despite changes in digital photography, it remains a vast area for research and developments, but it is one of the sciences that must concern people, in part because photography borders on areas explored by other critics of mass culture, and in part, because great numbers of people, although exposed to photography, do not have the same direct contribution in the production of photography as they do in the other categories of art. Without a doubt, photography is a part of modern culture, after that, it is most directly linked to society or by society. In contrast to other types of visible art, photography is not translated into another visual field; and in contrast to creative photography, armatures have less artistic and technical skills; less concern with communal, theoretical, or ideological issues of the photographic process; and less desire to create images for isolated aesthetic purposes.

Works Cited

Azoulay, A. The Ethic of the Spectator: The Citizenry of Photography. Afterimage, 33 (2005), 38.

Bolton, Richard, ed. The Contest of Meaning:Critical Histories of Photography. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1992.

Bourdieu, Pierre. Photography:A Middle-Brow Art. With Luc Boltanski et al., trans. Shaun Whiteside. Oxford: Polity Press, 1990.

Caffin, Charles H. Photography as Fine Art [1901]. Hastings-on-the-Hudson, N.Y.: Morgan and Morgan, 2000.

Hulick, D. E. Marshall, J. Photography: 1900 to the Present. Prentice Hall; Facsimile edition, 2000

Nickel, D. P. History of Photography: The State of Research. The Art Bulletin, 83 (2001), 43.

Smith, L. Photographic Portraiture and the Forgetting of Color. Journal of European Studies, 30 (2000), 91.

Tandeciarz, S. L. Mnemonic Hauntings: Photography as Art of the Missing. Social Justice, 33 (2006) 135.

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