A Brief History of Photography

April 1, 2022
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Since the advent of photography, it has affected the way of life and how people see the world. It has the ability to capture the moments, even the briefest event in one’s life. Photographs can also represent society and influence others to a change that can be beneficial or detrimental. Read on to learn more about photography, its history, and how it is shaped these days. 

In all the technology that we know, photography is one that has a brief history but has the most impact in the world that we know today. From a plain box that took blurry photos, we now have DSLRs and smartphones. We never expected that photography will be this fantastic. The story of photography is not that long and in fact, quite fascinating. 

The term “photography” is attributed to Sir John Herschel in 1839. Although the term was coined in the 19th century, the basic concept has been around since the 5th century BC. It was in the 11th century that an Iraqi scientist developed the camera obscura in which the art was born. Although this crude technology did not record images, it projected the onto a surface. The images were also upside down. The first camera obscura used a pinhole in a tent to project an image from outside the tent to the darkened area. In the 17th century, camera obscura further improved and became more portable because of its smaller size. Basic lenses were also introduced during this time as such focusing of images has improved.

It was in the late 1930s when Joseph Nicephore Niepce of France, used a portable camera obscura to expose a pewter plate coated with bitumen to light. Simultaneously, daguerreotypes, emulsion plates, and wet plates were developed. 

In those days, photography can only be afforded by professionals and the wealthy. This was changed by George Eastman when he started the company Kodak in the 1880s. He developed a flexible roll film that did not require changing the solid plates. As such, he was able to develop a self-contained box camera that can hold 100 film exposures. However, the camera does not have any focusing adjustment since it had only a small single lens.

In the 1930s, photographers used small 35mm cameras to capture images. This technology was used in the two great wars and captured images of soldiers during and after the battles. While the 35mm is gaining popularity, Polaroid introduced the Model 95 which used a process to develop film inside the camera. Although this camera is expensive, it captured the attention of the public because of its convenience and magic, so to say. However, Polaroid stopped manufacturing their film in 2008, and no one was ever successful in copying their technology. 

Years passed and cameras continuously evolved according to the needs of the consumers. Cameras became more available to the public and made more compact. Shooting images can be controlled in which the cameras can calculate speed, aperture, and focus. Amazingly, this technology has made the lives of photographers and other users more convenient as they can focus more on the composition. 

In the digital age, images can be stored electronically. Films are no longer needed with the cameras developed by various companies, such as Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and others.