The History of Photography

  • Wedgewood and Davy

    Wedgewood and Davy
    Thomas Wedgewood and Sir Humphrey Davy came up with a method of copying paintings onto glass and how to make profiles using nitrate of silver. They presented the idea to the Royal Institution of Great Britain in 1802. This paper was the first one published stating that the chemical action of light may be used to copy images. Nitrate of silver is still used for darkroom photography.
  • Louisiana Purchase

    Louisiana Purchase
    Thomas Jefferson purchased 828,000 square miles of land from Napoleon, leader of France, in 1803. He paid $15 million for the land and the purchase allowed America to almost double in size.
  • War of 1812

    War of 1812
    This war started as a dispute between the French and British. The U.S. joined the French side and the Native Americans joined the British side. The end of the war brought changes to America, including a rise in nationalism and the Federalist party ending soon after the war.
  • Earliest Surviving Photograph

    Earliest Surviving Photograph
    The first surviving photograph was created by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. It was made on a rectangular sheet of pewter. The pewter plate had been coated in bitumen of Judea (usually used in print-making) and attached to the back of a camera lucida. The lens was aimed at the courtyard outside. This is a positive image that took about eight hours to make.
  • Trail of Tears

    Trail of Tears
    From 1835-1838 thousands of Cherokees and Native Americans from various tribes were forceed to march to Oklahoma territory under the supervision of the U.S. army. Many died from sickness and starvation along the way. This act against the Native Americans represented the poor relationship between them and the Americans.
  • The Daguerreotype

    The Daguerreotype
    The daguerrotype is a photographic process invented by Louis-Jacques-Mande Daguerre. The image was made using a copper sheet plated with silver that had been given a high polish. The iodine fumes, from a box the plate was placed, fused with the silver to create the light sensitive silver iodide. Exposure times were usually long.
  • The Telegraph

    The Telegraph
    The telegraph was invented in 1837 by Samuel Morse. It is a machine that sends an electrical pulse down a wire along with a morse code that can be used to translate messages. This machine made long distance communication possible.
  • The Calotype

    The Calotype
    Henry Fox Talbot made his first image in 1835 called, The Latticed Window, taken at his family home. He used the Calotype process, which he invented. The process involves the use of salt to sensitize the paper and fix the image. This produced negatives, so multiple prints could be made. Talbot did not announce his invention until 1839, which meant Daguerre announced his invention first.
  • The Pencil of Nature

    The Pencil of Nature
    Talbot continued to experiment with his work, even after he invented the calotype. He made an image called, The Open Door, which he considered to be a new art. He also photographed haystacks to experiment with light and shadow. He published a book titled “The Pencil of Nature” that included his photographs. It was published in six sections from 1844 – 1846. It is the first book to use silver gelatin photographs.
  • The Mexican-American War

    The Mexican-American War
    This war took place from 1846 - 1848. It began when the Mexican Province of Texas declared itself an independent republic. The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ended the war forcing Mexico to give up extensive amounts of territory. This was the first war to be photographed.
  • The Wet Collodion Process

    The Wet Collodion Process
    The wet collodion photographic process
    was invented by Frederick Scott Archer. It was used to produce a glass negative and a beautifully detailed print. The quality of the prints and the fact they could be reproduced led the new method to thrive from the 1850s - 1880. It was used by Lewis Carroll and Julia Margaret Cameron to make their
  • The Crimean War

    The Crimean War
    Lasting from 1853 - 1856, the Crimean War was a fight between the Russian empire and the alliance of France, Britain, Sardinia, and the Ottoman empire. The cause involved the rights of Christian minorities of the Ottoman empire and the decline of the empire itself. The Russian empire lost the war, which kept them from taking control over the territory.
  • Medicine and Anthropology

    Medicine and Anthropology
    Photography was used to enhance or replace the written record when taken for medicinal and scientific reasons. Hugh Welch Diamond was a doctor that photographed mental patients to help them understand their afflictions better. He thought that photography's scientific objectivity would make the images historically important. This is just one example of photography being used for medicinal and anthropological reasons.
  • Roger Fenton

    Roger Fenton
    Fenton took many photographs during the Crimean war, which was the first major war to be photographed. He took the most famous photograph from the war titled, The Valley of the Shadow of the Valley of Death. It was taken after the event and Fenton strategically placed cannonballs on the dirt road to make it appear as if the event happened recently.
  • Nadar

    A photographer and balloonist, Nadar photographed artists and celebrities in France. He also made the first aerial views of Paris by carrying all of his equipment in a hot air balloon since he used the wet collodion process.
  • Oscar Rejlander

    Oscar Rejlander
    In 1857 Rejlander created the most well‐known tableaux vivant of the era titled, The Two Ways of Life. The print was created using over thirty negatives and took about six weeks to complete. It shows two youths being offered guidance by a patriarch and each one looks toward a section of a stage‐like tableaux vivant. One youth is shown the virtuous pleasures and the other sinful pleasures. The image caused controversy due to some nudity it includes.
  • Lewis Caroll

    Lewis Caroll
    Caroll was an avid photographer in Victorian
    England and worked with fiction and fantasy. He is well known for his book, Alice in Wonderland. He had an interest in photographing children including the photograph of Alice Liddell as ‘The Begger Maid’.
  • Henry Peach Robinson

    Henry Peach Robinson
    Robinson was taught the art of combination printing by Rejlander. His image, Fading Away, depicts a dying young girl being cared for by her family. It looks more natural than Rejlander's, The Two Ways of Life, and many people were disturbed by the image.
  • The Stereoscope

    The Stereoscope
    The stereographic camera had a twin‐lens that produced two side‐by‐side images, known as a stereoview, giving the images a three‐dimensional effect when viewed through a stereoscope. Stereoscopes were viewers that let people view images at home in 3‐dimensions. These images were popular during the civil war.
  • The American Civil War

    The American Civil War
    This war lasted from 1861-1865. Its immediate cause was a dispute over figitive slaves. More then half a million United States and Confederate States soldiers were killed during the war.
  • Matthew Brady

    Matthew Brady
    Brady was an entrepreneur and the best known civil war photographer. He usually had operators take the photos for him, such as Timothy O'Sullivan and Alexander Gardner. His exhibition, The Dead of Antietam, was taking mostly by Gardner and a milestone for war photography. The images included real corpses, which shocked many viewers.
  • Transcontinental Railroad

    Transcontinental Railroad
    The Union Pacific Railroad came from the east and the Central Pacific Railroad came from the west to meet in the middle at Promontory point. The Transcontinental Railroad improved trade and transportation throughout America.
  • The Scientific Use of Portraits

    The Scientific Use of Portraits
    Charles Darwin conducted a study about human emotions and published the book, “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.” In the book, photography was used to argue that the physical signs of emotions were inherently the same in humans and animals. He hired photographers to take pictures of people with a variety of expressions to help argue his point.
  • Julia Margaret Cameron

    Julia Margaret Cameron
    Cameron was a Victorian era photographer. Instead of focusing on making sharp images, she would use a lens with a short focal length, creating a narrow focal point. The soft focus was used to suggest dreams or mystery. She photographed Alice Lidell as a young woman.
  • The Telephone

    The Telephone
    Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in 1876. This invention created a new communication network that changed the way people communicate. Women stepped into a new role as telephone operators, which changed their role in society.
  • Compromise of 1877

    Compromise of 1877
    After the civil war the north decided to try to Reconstruct the south. The compromise was to take the Union troops out of the south, which ended the Age of Reconstruction. This took America into the Gilded Age. It also ended the Republican party in the south for almost a hundred years.
  • The Mug-Shot

    The Mug-Shot
    Before the use of mug-shots became the standard, police forces in many countries used photographs to identify people. Photographers thought complete body shots would help identify someone better than just a photo of their face. Alphonse Bertillon standardized the use of mug‐shots in the 1880s helping the police identify people.