History Of Photography Essay: How It Was And How It Is Now


Today so many people are fond of photography. Some prefer to take photos, others to have their photo taken. There are so many photographers, professionals and amateurs. Some photographers take such great photos that we can not stop admiring them. However, modern photography provides us with numerous various gadgets and devices that help us to take great photos and sometimes they can even do everything instead of us. Everything sounds amazing, but let’s have a look on how it was from the very beginning, what way photography passed in its development. In this essay about photography we are going to present you brief history of photography so that you have an idea about it. Also those who are interested in photography will definitely like this history of photography essay. Read and enjoy reading.

The history of photography

Photography in its common meaning was discovered by a man quite late. Till the 19th century a lot of chemical elements were not discovered yet. Scientists simply did not know which elements can react to light. So people had to save pictures with the help of drawing only.

Art was greatly developed in the Middle Ages. You should not think that all the artists of that time were poor. Some of them can be compared with modern wedding photographers. They were hired to leave memory to the descendants. Artists used draw portraits and were well paid for their works. However every single picture took much time. Usually a man or the whole family could not stay without movement for such a long time. So artists had to draw a portrait in several stages. Artists managed to make this process quicker. At that time they started using device called camera obscura.

Camera obscura was mentioned even in works of Leonardo da Vinci. In fact already Aristotle, ancient Greek philosopher, knew about its qualities. Camera obscura is a hermetic box or a dark room without windows. In the middle of one of the edges there is a round hole. Light from outside goes through the hole and reaches the other side. A man in this case sees the projection of the space behind the camera but upside-down. It was the idea of Leonardo da Vinci to divide the room with a wall with half transparent canvas or glass, on which the picture would be projected. The artist’s work was to draw the picture.

Next stage

With the optics development, camera obscura was also developing. Using new biconvex lens the device got smaller sizes, and was no longer giant. Camera obscura turned into quite small wooden box. There was a mirror in the back part, from which the image was projected up on the half transparent sheet of paper or on the glass. But the history of photography began not from this moment. Such camera obscura did not allow to get photo, man still had to draw the image. So still everything depended on artist’s skills.

The history of photography beginning starts in the early 1800s. The British Humphry Davy and Thomas Wedgwood decided to put in the camera obscura a sheet of paper moistened with silver nitrate and sodium chloride solute. As a result they got a low contrast picture. They need a couple of hours to get a picture, but under the light the picture almost completely disappeared. That is why soon such experiments were ended.

The photography inventor is considered to be Joseph Nicephore Niepce. He decided to achieve automatic picture generation on paper at any price. And he succeeded. He used paper moistened in Syrian asphalt, also known as bitumen to get black-white pictures.

The problem of such photography taking was in the duration of exposition hat could last even eight hours. It was impossible to take photos of people, so the first Niepce photos are the sceneries of his native town.

What happened next

With the death of Niepce the history of photography did not finish. Louis Jacques Daguerre continued to develop this sphere. He used plates with silver layer to take photos. He also covered them with iodine. As a result he got negative image, but it did not satisfied him. Besides, the time of exposition was the same.

In 1835 Daguerre accidentally discovered that the picture becomes visible much faster under the influence of mercury vapor.

Later the process of photo taking gradually improved. The British John Frederick Goddard started to process silver plates with the mix of bromine and chlorine vapor. After that the exposition time reduced to one minute, what was quite satisfying result. The portrait photography started to spread after this discovering.

In 1850s stereoscopic daguerreotypes was invented. Two pictures were put in one device. With the help of various magnifying glasses or field-glasses each eye of a man was looking at one of the pictures. As a result the image seemed to be three-dimensional.

The disadvantage of photos of that time is that impossibility to copy them. To create new picture it was needed to take new photo. The changes in this process happened only with the invention of negative-positive process.


William Henry Fox Talbot is a significant person in the history of photography. This Englishman for a very long time worked on his own way of photography taking. Later this method was called Calotype. It had a lot of its own features. For example, Talbot’s photography was negative at the first stages. But after putting it in a special solute in a dark room the picture could be transferred on other carrier. In the process the coloures changed, and eventually he got black and white picture.

Talbot took out a patent for his invention, that is why his method of photography taking was not very popular. Mostly such photos were taken by the inventor only. The main advantage of Calotype was the limitless possibility to make copies from one negative.

The history of photography in other countries

Photography was developing not only in Europe. Experiments were held in the USA, Russia and even Asia. In Russia photographer Sergei Levitsky made big contribution in photography development. Earlier camera was too big and it was not convenient to transport it. Levitsky replaced the side walls with the cloth. Now camera could be assembled for transportation. Soon new models that could be placed in a small case appeared.

Also significant contribution in the development of photo technics was made by lieutenant Izmailov. He equipped camera with the system of magazine rifle. It allowed the change of the photo tape (camera roll). In general camera contained 70 tapes.

The development of photography in the United Stated was caused by the establishment of “Kodak” company. There was invented the gelatin substance that allowed reducing the exposition time to hundredths of a second. Now it was high time to develop the photo equipment so that it was possible to use such a minimal exposition.

The history of photography of the 20th century

Eventually the photography took its modern form. The snapshot was taken with the help of camera. Photo tape was put inside the device. The picture could be transferred on the photo paper. The history of photography of the 20th century did not develop very rapidly. First of all scientists worked on camera improvement, not photography itself. The exception is the beginning of the 20th century when the possibility of colour photos taking was invented.

During the previous century there was created a great number of cameras. In Germany “Leica” company was established, cameras of which are still considered the most luxury and expensive. The competition between “Nikon” and “Canon” has begun and still continues.

The history continues

It was a brief presentation of the photography history. The technology of photo taking was constantly developed. In the 19th century the invention in this field happened almost every year. Now there is new stage of photography history – digital photography. “Sony” company in 1981 created the first digital camera that outstripped its time. Later almost all the giants of the photography technology industry started to produce such cameras.

Nowadays we can take photo with the help of various devices. We use digital camera less now. More often we prefer web-cams, smart phones, tablets, video cameras and digital field-glasses. Some people use camera as a spyhole. Global changes happened in the sphere of photography during two centuries.

So as you can see photography has developed and changed greatly. There are so many essays on photography, but usually they are so complicated and there are many sophisticated terms and words that make them difficult to understand. We tried to make this essay on photography as clear as possible. If you like such a manner of presentation, then you should visit our website where you will find more interesting and useful essays written in a simple manner, what is very important for the reader. Also our website is the best essay writing service, so if you need any kind of help with your own essay, do not hesitate and contact our supportive team.

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