Facts About How Photography Was Invented

Page content

The Origins of Photography

Photography has been around in one form or another for centuries. In fact it is believed that the principal origins of photography and how light reflects began in ancient times by Mo-Ti, a Chinese philosopher ca. 400 BC, who described it as a “locked treasure room.” In a darkened room with a small hole in fabric or something covering a window an inverted image will show on up the opposite wall. What Mo-Ti described later became what is known as the camera obscura. The camera obscura was found to be a natural effect.

Camera Obscura and the Daguerrotype Process

Camera is a Latin word meaning “vaulted chamber/room” and obscura means “dark” or “darkened chamber/room”. The first portable one was built and able to be used in the late 1680’s by Johann Zahn. Johann was actually building off larger bulky pieces, but it wasn’t until the early part of the 1800’s that the first permanent photograph was produced. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the image fading. It was Louis Daguerre who figured out how to keep the image from fading.

The daguerreotype process was considered to be the first photographic process. It was invented by Louis Daguerre and Joseph Niepce. But it was in the mid 1830’s that Henry Fox Talbot created permanent negative images with paper that was soaked in silver chloride and a salt solution fix. To make the images positive he used a technique of contact printing onto a different sheet. In the early 50’s the process of developing images was further advanced by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851. He figured out how to make the images clearer the earlier photographic images.

The Evolution of Photography

One of the most significant advances made to photography is largely credited to inventor George Eastman. In the 1880’s George introduced dry and transparent roll film. His aim was to make photography available to everyone and he did. He developed the Kodak brand. His cameras were pre-loaded with film and when all the film was used the cameras were returned to the company to be developed then camera and prints returned to the customer. It was a revolutionary idea that propelled photography into a new age.

Since that first Kodak camera was introduced many advances have been made by making the cameras more lightweight, smaller and easier to use. In fact in the mid 1930’s the first single lens reflex (SLR) 35 mm camera was introduced. Later in the late 1940’s the first Polaroid, one of the most well known of the instant cameras, was introduced. The Polaroid gave people the chance to view their images immediately.


Since photography was first discovered back in ancient times it has made significant strides in technological advances. It brought us from pinhole cameras or camera obscuras to the Kodak roll film cameras to the Polaroid instant cameras to today’s generation of digital cameras. It’s been a long winding road for photography, but we can only look forward to see what the advances of tomorrow will bring to us.


History of Photography, https://www.fi.edu/pieces/watson/hist.htm