Our world today is filled with photos. Everywhere we see, there are photographs in some or the other form. Posters, photo frames, calendars, advertisements, packages of products etc. Today we could take a photo with a tap or click of the button but when we go down to the history, the first photograph took around 8 hours to be captured. Photography was started even before the word “Photography” was coined. Every technology that we are using today has a jaw-dropping advancement and history to it. Photography and cameras are no exceptions. The birth of photography itself has lead to several industrial and technological evolutions. We could not think of films, advertisement, television shows today if it wasn’t for camera.

Now let’s date back to beginning era of how image was captured on a screen and how photography evolved.


It works on the same principle as Pinhole camera we studied during the science classes in our school. It’s no jargon. It literally means “dark chamber” or “dark room” in Latin. It is found that the working principle was mentioned in Chinese scriptures which date back to 5th century. Later during the 6th century it was used Leonardo DaVinci and other well known scientists of that period. Around 1452-1519 DaVinci used to draw 3D and perspective drawings as the image (buildings)were represented on the wall, he placed a canvas on top of that and created intricate drawings.

But it was an Arab scientist called Alhazen who made a working model and invented Camera Obscura around 11th century in Egypt.


Joseph Niepce, a name to be etched in the era of photography. He was a French man who was very much interested in Photography. He took the world’s first photograph in 1826. He captured what’s known as “view from the window at Le Gras”. It was a permanent photograph. It took around 8 hours to capture, so it’s evident in the photograph that sun’s rays fall on both sides of the wall. He called it “Heliography”


In 1837, Louis Daguerre collaborated with Joseph Niepce invented the practical photographic process and he called it the “Daguerreotype”. Why it was so important to know about this is because, in 1839 the French government made it free to the use of public, they called it as “a gift free to world” so it was commercially available. Though the process didn’t take hours, it took around 10-15 minutes and that is the reason the early portrait photography has stern and dull face humans because it was not possible to smile for so long.

Though it was successful it had its disadvantages: They couldn’t pose for so long, so the clamp or head rest was invented, it fixed the humans to posture. It was a positive and hence several copies of it couldn’t be made.


Overcoming the disadvantages of Daguerreotype, William Henry Fox Talbot invented the calotype in 1839. It provided negatives, so several copies could be made.


The words we are using today in the field of photography were coined by John Herschell. Sir John Frederick William Herschel was a British mathematician and an astronomer, he coined the term “Photography” in 1839. He also holds credit to the terms “positive, negative and snapshot”.


Around 1854, in Europe, Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi invented “Calling cards”. It was cards mounted on photo albums. They were cheap and easily able to make multiple copies. It was very famous during the Victoria era.


Until now, the photographs required a dark room to process the photos. Dr Richard Maddox invented the technique of dry plate photography, he used gelatin instead of glass unlike the wet plate photography.


In 1872, Eadward Muybridge accidentally discovered motion photography when he wished to solve the riddle of whether all four hooves of a galloping horse were off the ground. He arranged 12 cameras along a race track, he attached a string to all the cameras so that when the horse crosses it pulls the string and each camera photographs its path. It was true that all four hooves were off the ground. But to his surprise he got a series of photographs which looked like a horse in motion. He then developed techniques to capture the motion of animals and humans.


Louis Ducous du Hauron is credited as the first person to take colour photography, ie in 1872. It was a landscape of Angouleme in Southern France.


Etienne Jules Marey a French scientist invented the photographic gun in 1880. He wished to learn the flight of birds. He made a gun which had a circular tin on top of the trigger which contained a rotating glass plate. It could take 12 consecutive photos per second.


George Eastman is one of the pioneers in photography. He made photography available to everyone.

He used the method of dry plate photography. He invented the celluloid based films and the portable box cameras in 1884 and 1888 respectively.

He invented the plastic roll films, once the camera captures 100 photographs they can bring the roll box to Kodak and they would process. Hence the tagline “You press the button, we do the rest”.


The TLR camera has two lenses which is of the same focal length. One of the lenses is used to capture the photos while the other lens is used as the viewfinder.

It was used around 1885-1929.


Oskar Barnack, a German design engineer in 1913 developed a 35 mm camera. It has a separate range finder which focuses on the subject and allows to view the depth.

In 1924 it was mass produced. It was then called the “Leica” camera.


There are many developments in SLR cameras ranging from large and medium format SLRs by Pentax, 35mm SLR Asahiflex in 1952. The first pentaprism SLR for eye-level viewing was the Contax S built around 1949. The first 35mm SLR, Ihagee Kine Exakta was produced in 1936.


The cameras we are using today, it has the same principal functions of SLR camera. It is said that around 1987 the Kodak Research labs came up with the first digitzed photo storage and integrated image sensor and the functional DSLR was commercially made available by Kodak in 1991.

Now it’s quite shocking to know that it has been 180 years since the invention of photography and that advancement in the field of photography is rapid. Today every Smartphone can take extremely good photos but it all started with pinhole cameras.

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