A Fascinating Documentary on the Early History of Photography

Most of us are relatively familiar with the history of photography in the last decade or so, but I'd argue its early years were far more interesting, with patent wars abounding and chemicals making people crazy (ok, maybe I'm glad that part is no longerĀ an issue). This fascinating documentary details the history of early photographic processes, their development, and the stories of the people behind them.

If you're old enough to remember when digital cameras really took hold from film, you likely remember the astoundingly exponential rate that they developed at, with manufacturers leap-frogging one another in quality and capabilities seemingly every few months. The birth of photography as a visual medium was much the same: once the viability of the process was clear (and more importantly, its economic potential was apparent), inventors raced to improve it. This became particularly important when the processes became both of a high enough quality and quick enough to make human portraits possible and again when they became simple and cheap enough to put cameras in the hands of the average person. This great documentary will take you through those exciting periods in the 19th century and into the 20th century; I definitely recommend sitting down with it this evening.

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3 Comments

William Howell's picture

Boy, that was fascinating and educational. Louis Dagger, George Eastman and Edward Land, the big names that made photography what it is today. Good article!

dimasa sparrow's picture

watched till the end after dinner in the name of digestion. Now I realized how fortunate we are to be able to get years of hard work and research in a device such as mobile phones too.

Janet Reed's picture

Photography today seems strangely wed to its historic origins -- even in the digital age. I'd also love to see a similar documentary about digital.