Free «A History of Photography» Essay Sample


This paper explores the history of development and improvement of the photography art. “Photography” comes from the Greek words photos (“light”) and graphein (“to draw”) (Daniel, 2000). Joseph NicephoreNiépce made the first successful photograph in 1827. The first modern color film was introduced by the American Kodak in 1935. This paper examines the beginnings of Photography in England and France, photography in China, war photography, the photographers like Joseph NicephoreNiepce, George Eastman, Timothy O`Sullivan, Steven Shore.

Keywords: photograph, art, photographer


Photography, the art that was invented in 1890s, is one of the most popular hobbies today. It is a powerful means to crystalize our memories. It is hard to imagine vacations, weddings and birthdays without snapshots. In the first years of photography people didn’t attribute it to art. They concluded that photography was just a mechanical process that didn’t require creativity and imagination. Nowadays photography is a beautiful art, recognized by people. Photos are displayed in museums, in private collections and are studied in the courses of art history.

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A History of Photography

The “golden age” in the French photography art continued during the 1850s. Artists of that time made toned colorful prints for wealthy patrons. In the 1860s, photography became accessible to a larger audience. Photographers started to make cheaper prints for a middle class. Careful composition, exquisite printing or some other aesthetic factors were less essential than the recognizable rendering of sights (Daniel, 2000).

One of the famous French photographers at that time was A.-A.-E. Disdéri. He could make near eight exposures on one negative. Then he cut the paper into eight pictures and pasted the individual photographs on the visiting cards (Daniel, 2000).

Another achievement at the 1850s and 1860s was the stereograph. It helped to make identical views from different positions of a single camera.

Many photographers prospered in the times of technical advances in the 1860s and 1870s. The photographer Pierre-Louis Pierson created unique works. In addition to France, the photography art was developing in England. Julia Margaret Cameron used photography to express literary and biblical ideals (Daniel, 2000).

The first successful photograph was made in 1827 by Joseph NicephoreNiépce. In 1814 he started his research. Big breakthrough Niépce made in 1822 when using a camera ‘obscura’ he made a permanent image (Bailiwick, 2011). On the first photo in the world the courtyard outside of the Niepce’s house is showed. He used the lens of camera and a plate with a few drops of bitumen. The process was continuing for eight hours. In 1827 M. Joseph NicephoreNiepce mixed several ingredients for capturing the image. It helped to make the first successful permanent photograph (Bailiwick, 2011).

The American inventor, George Eastman, transformed photography into popular pastime. He invented Kodak cameras and dry, transparent, and flexible photographic film for them. The photographer founded Eastman Kodak Company (Bellis, 2009).

The images that conveyed the tragically moments of war were made for the first time by Timothy H. O’Sullivan. In the first collection of Civil War photographs there were published forty-four O’Sullivan’s photographs (Tolmachev, 2010).

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Concerning the Chinese photography, the photos often were used for proofing some historical events. Many works are without specific year or source of information.

War photographs are more than just photos of combat. Such photos produce compassion, fatigue of people and desensitize them to the horror.

In 1907 Lumière brothers from France invented the first color plate. Next project was made by German inventor Agfa in 1932. The first modern color film was introduced by the American Kodak Company in 1935 (Tolmachev, 2010)

One of the American photographers, Stephen Shore, documented America in his photos making pictures of banal scenes.

Talking about modern photography, it should be noted that four trends have opportunities for developing the photography. One of subsectors is fashion and celebrity photography. Reportage-style photography, performance art and real life are other popular trends of modern photography (Gembalest, 2006).


The art ofphotography has passed a long way of development and improvement. It became one of the art directions. There are many museums and exhibitions of modern photography now.

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