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When was Photography invented?

Which was the first photograph?

Once upon a time, long before smartphones and digital cameras, people had to rely on their memory and imagination to recall important events and moments in their lives. But then, a revolutionary invention changed everything. Today we will talk about when was photography invented.

In the early 19th century, a Frenchman by the name of Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was experimenting with methods to take pictures using light. He had been working on this concept for years, projecting pictures onto a surface with a tool called a camera obscura, but he had never been able to figure out how to make those images last. One day, in 1826, Niépce had a breakthrough. He coated a metal plate with a substance called bitumen, which was sensitive to light. He then exposed the plate to light through his camera obscura for several hours, creating an image of the view outside his window. After washing the plate with a solvent, he was left with a permanent image that he called a “heliograph.”

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce is best known for his contributions to the development of photography. Niépce, a Frenchman who was born in Chalon-sur-Saône in 1765, was enthralled by the innovations and new technologies that the Industrial Revolution was bringing to the world.

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

The camera obscura, a tool used for centuries to project images onto a surface, was one of the inventions that attracted Niépce’s interest. Niépce recognized the camera obscura’s promise as a tool for capturing and preserving visual records of his surroundings. He started working with various chemicals and materials to see if he could make the images produced by the camera obscura permanent. 

Niépce eventually succeeded in using the camera obscura to produce a permanent image after years of trial and error. In 1826, he coated bitumen, a material that was light-sensitive, to a metal disk. After several hours of exposure to light through his camera obscura, he developed a picture of the scene outside his window. He created a “heliograph” by leaving a permanent picture on the plate after cleaning it with a solvent.

About Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre

Niépce’s invention was the first step toward the invention of photography. But it was not until a few years later, in 1839, that photography as we know it today was born. A man named Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre had been working on his own photographic process, which he called the “daguerreotype.” Like Niépce, Daguerre used a camera obscura to project an image onto a surface, but he coated his surface with a substance called silver iodide, which was even more sensitive to light. Daguerre’s process produced images that were much sharper and more detailed than Niépce’s heliographs. And, unlike Niépce’s process, which took several hours to create an image, Daguerre’s process only took a few minutes.

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre Image taken fron Britannica

The invention of the daguerreotype revolutionized the way people thought about images and memory. Suddenly, it was possible to capture and preserve important moments in time with incredible detail and accuracy. In the years that followed, photography continued to evolve and improve. New processes were developed, new cameras were invented, and new ways of thinking about images emerged. Today, photography is a ubiquitous part of our lives, and we take it for granted that we can capture and share images with just a few clicks of a button. But it all started with the pioneering work of Niépce and Daguerre, who changed the world with their revolutionary invention.


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