Photography History

Birth of Photography


Photography has come a long way through the decades from a box version of a camera all the way to smartphones.

We use our cameras to catch particular moments in time as well as an expressionistic approach to art and how we perceive the world. It also helps with capturing evidence for cases that need to be proven, not just for art. Photography has come in handy in all sorts of situations. My buddy Paul Plumber West Palm Beach had to prove a case to an insurance company about some rotted pipes underneath the house and the fact that we were able to snap photos and send it as proof of the plumbing work that needed to be done was wonderful and covered his you know what.

The Camera


Before photography came into being, many understood the principles behind the successful art of capturing images. Not having a method to print or develop a photograph, the art of preserving the image could be projected onto a wall or a piece of paper. The instrument they used to capture and to project the images was referred to as a “camera obscura.”

The camera obscura was invented sometime during the thirteenth or fourteenth century. This simple little instrument was a box with a hole located on one side of it. The light passed through a pinhole on the box creating an image on the inside wall of the box. This image was in mirror form appearing upside down and then projected out from the box.


With today’s camera, we can vaguely see a prototype of the camera obscura. Although the camera obscura is useless in today’s world, some find it amusingly useful for artistic purposes.


Camera Obscura, Art, and Sorcery


Photography was not recognized as an art form until the 1830’s. Many perceived photography as a somewhat non-conformative form of art, however, famous artists such as Michelangelo and DaVinci used the camera obscura to project images to aid the process of drawing.


One such artist (Giovanni Battista) attempted to use the camera obscura method; however, it was perceived by many as strange, scary and powered by sorcery. He was arrested and imprisoned on sorcery charges.


The World’s First Photograph


In 1825, a French inventor (Joseph Niepce) took the first photograph.  He placed his camera in front of a window and ever so slowly captured the view from the window looking out. The exposure lasted for eight hours as the sun had to move east to west. Unfortunately, his photograph lacked any artistic merit but was instead viewed as technical innovation.

Niepce’s ingenuity of using bitumen of Judea (a derivative of petroleum) while exposing it to sunlight, caused it to harden. The bitumen was placed on a metal plate. Once the eight hours had passed, he washed away the unhardened bitumen and then polished it to expose a rendering of a negative. Coating it with ink afterward, he was able to produce a print. This process was extremely costly to do and was labor intensive.


Later in 1839, Sir John Herschel took Niepce’s innovation a step further replacing the metal plate with glass. Not only were the results better, but much easier to process.


With time, photography has evolved as it has claimed its rightful place in the world of art. All thanks to the simple little box known as the camera!