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MAIN Arrow to ArtArt & Culture Arrow to Photography Photography Arrow to Photography - History History of Photography

first photo portrait, 1839
A self-portrait by photographer
Robert Cornelius, the first ever
photograph of a human posing
for the camera.


In the age of the digital camera, it can be a bit humbling to see the results that early photographers achieved with the simplest equipment.

Beginning in the early 19th century when French inventors (among them, Louis Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype), photographic images immediately captured the imagination.

If a picture was worth a thousand words, then the camera was the tool that magically made the world more personal and immediate.

The popularity of photography grew steadily throughout the 19th century to include advances in the first mass-produced box camera (pioneered by George Eastman), that eventually brought cameras into the mainstream.

The modern photographer owes a great debt to these pioneers who struggled to capture images and develop better techniques and cameras for those who followed.

There are many good photographic history sites online. These few will lead you to many more. Surf through them and prepare to be amazed at the beauty captured by both primitive cameras and more complicated processes.

also see -> Depression Era Photography

More about the history of photography around the Web:

An Exhibition at The Museum of the History of Science, Oxford - From old cameras (hand-held camera obscura, c. 1700) or a woman pioneer photographer - to the equipment used by Lawrence of Arabia - this site offers a tour de force of photographic history and techniques not to be missed.

The American Museum of Photography - Loaded with photos and informationm but resist the temptation to jump right into the exhibits and see what else is offered first. Be sure to check the resources section before you leave.

SFMOMA - The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's Photography collection began in 1935 with a photo collection that dates back to the 1840's.

Midley History of Photography - Solid info and references from R. Derek Wood’s articles on "The Early History of Photography, the Daguerreotype and Diorama."

Fratelli Alinari - An Italian archive founded in 1852 with more than 3,500,000 photographs dating from the invention of photography to the present. There's an annual fee to search - but looking is free.


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