Crash Course on the History of Photography.


Joseph Niepce is known as the first to produce permanent photo (shown right). He used a portable camera obscura to expose a pewter plate coated with bitumen to light. This would the first recorded image that did not fade quickly and would be what we consider the beginnings of photography.

Joseph Niepce first permanent photo


Louis Daguerre produced the first practical photographic process, calling it the daguerreotype. It used mirror-like images on a copper plate and developed photos with mercury. This would be the forerunner of modern film. Play the video to learn more about the daguerreotype.


An Englishman named William Talbot, who had been working on photography for a few years, developed a new process using paper instead of copper plates. He developed the images using gallic acid. This Calotype process was the first introduction to "paper-negative photo technology".



Matthew Brady was the first to photograph an American president. He took a picture of Abraham Lincoln visiting New York. While Lincoln had previously been dismissed in his campaign as little more than a bumpkin, Brady’s photograph of Lincoln in a smart suit helped give him a sophisticated look which helped him gain support.



Eadweard Muybridge developed the first camera shutter, allowing him to photograph images in motion. Before this, the subject had to be still for long periods of time. Muybridge was comissioned by Leland Stanford to capture his horses in motion, which would be conveniently titled as "The Horse in Motion".

horse one horse two horse three horse four horse five horse six horse seven horse eight


George Eastman had been in the camera business for several years before he developed Kodak. He trademarked the brand, and it quickly caught on. This self-contained box camera that held 100 film exposures and was the first camera inexpensive enough for the average person to afford.

kodak camera


A German named Wilhelm Roentgen invented a type of photograph that would revolutionize the medical world. This photograph captures dense regions beneath the surface to reveal what our bones look like. He named it the x-ray. Press the button below to take an x- ray picture.

torso x-ray


Up until this point, photographs were in black and white. Auguste and Louis Lumiere introduced the Autochrome, the first color camera available to the public. Click the button below to give the black and white picture some color!

Lumiere brothers


Over the next forty years the camera evolved at a fast pace. Photocopying became possible, the zoom lens was developed, the Polaroid was released, and the point-and-shoot camera was put out by Kodak. Shake the polaroid picture to help the image develop!

polaroid-before polaroid-after


In 1992 Kodak introduced a revolutionary development that would change the face of photography again. Storing pictures on a CD led to digital film including digital cameras, digital picture frames, and cameras on phones and tablets.

sony digital camers smart phones smart tablets CDs


Moving forward, we have entered a digital age where digital cameras have taken a backseat to multipurpose devices (especially smartphones) The graph illustrates the downward trend in digital camera sales which happens to coincide with the increased prevalence of smart phone use. We can only guess what the next new trend will be...