History of Photography

Events In 500 B.C.

500 Mo Ti (China)

 Creates first pinhole camera.

Events In 300 B.C.

330 Aristotle (Greece)

 Observed a solar eclipse projected onto the ground as it shined through a small opening created by the leaves of a tree

Events In 1400's

1490 Leonardo DaVinci (Italy)

 Writes the earliest surviving description of a camera obscura.

Events In 1500's

1550 Girolamo Cardano (Italy)

 In his book, "De Subtilitate", mentions biconvex glass (i.e. curved on both sides, thickest in the middle) making the camera obscura image sharper.

1568 Daniele Barbaro (Italy)

 Wrote "la pratica della perpettiva", which describes adding a diaphragm to the lens of a camera obscura to control both the amount of light passing through a lens and the depth of field.

1589 Giambattista dellaPorta (Italy) is published

 In this Renaissance-era best-seller, della Porta becomes the first to discuss the optical principals that were later used in the development of the SLR (Single Lens Reflex camera), as well as the telescope.

Events In 1600's

1611 Johannes Kepler (Germany)

 The famed astronomer designs a camera obscura made up of a collapsible tent - arguably creating the first portable camera.

1614 Angelo Sala (Italy)

 Records the darkening effects of silver nitrate when exposed to sunlight.

Events In 1700's

1727 Professor J. Schulze

 Professor J. Schulze mixes chalk, nitric acid, and silver in a flask; notices darkening on side of flask exposed to sunlight. This event becomes the accidental creation of the first photo-sensitive compound.

1765 Joseph Nicephore Niépce (France) Born.

 Joseph, who loved lithography but couldn't draw, invented the process by which a projected image could be affixed to light sensitive material. By the age of 53, the major technical elements were present in his work: camera, biconvex lens, and diaphragm. He was able to produce a sharp negative onto silver chloride and make it permanent (i.e. it didn't fade immediately) enough to mail to his brother. (d. 1833)

1771 Thomas Wedgwood (England) Born

 His experiments proved that chemically transferring images of objects and pictures (as opposed to manually or mechanically doing so) with the aid of light, could be achieved. Wedgwood used nitrate of silver on white paper or leather. The only drawback was that the image was not permanent and faded to black if exposed to any further light. (d. 1805)

1787 Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre (France) Born

 Building on Niépce's work, Daguerre was able to produce the first permanent positive image made from nature, thus creating the daguerrotype. (d. 1851)

1796 Aloys Senefeldr (Germany)

 Invents lithography

Events In 1800's

1800 Thomas Wedgwood

 The first image created using a chemical process and focused light is made by Thomas Wedgwood. The image is highly unstable and deteriorates rapidly.

1807 William Hyde Wollaston (England)

 Invents the "camera lucida." The device looks like a spy glass and peering through it combines the subject and the drawing surface in the same view.

1815 Julia Margaret Cameron (England) Born

 Known for her romantic portraits of prominent people of the Victorian Era.(d.1879)

1822 Mathew Brady (USA) Born

 He and his staff (including Alexander Gardner) cover the American Civil War, exposing 7000 negative plates and revealing with new frankness the horrors of war. A major contributor to American History, he photographed, with one exception, every President of the United States from John Quincy Adams to William McKinley, the sixth to the twentyfifth Presidents. (d. 1896)

1824 First Permanent Image (France)

 While trying to create a lithographic image, Joseph Niépce made the first "permanent" image using light sensitive material and dubs the process heliography. The earliest surviving photograph, an image of a nearby rooftop, takes somewhere between 8 and 20 hours to expose.

1831 James Clerk-Maxwell (Scotland) Born

 A Scottish physicist, he first demonstrated a color photography system involving three black and white photographs, each taken through a red, green, or blue filter. The photos were turned into lantern slides and projected in registration with the same color filters. This is the "color separation" method. (d. 1879)

1834 William Henry Fox Talbot (England)

 Invents "salted paper print", a printing out process.

1821 Alexander Gardner (Scotland) Born

 Emigrating to the US and settling in New York in 1856, Gardner becomes employed by famed photographer Matthew Brady, and becomes an expert in the then-new collodion (wet-plate) process. When the Civil War breaks out, Gardner is sent into the field and produces some of the first modern war photos. (d. 1882)

1839 Daguerrotype Introduced

 The Daguerrotype is a positive only process allowing no reproduction of the picture developed with toxic mercury vapor. The daguerrotype brings about the creation of modern portrait photography. However, the extreme delicate nature of the image makes handling of daguerrotypes nearly impossible! The first process for making permanent positive images from nature was publicly introduced in 1839.

1839 Hertschel (France)

 Invented method of sensitizing glass with silver halides and first glass plate negative. Coins the terms "photography", "negative" and "positive".

1843 Ann Cooke (England)

 First woman to open a photographic portrait studio.

1849 Jacob Riis (Denmark) Born

 Riis pioneers photojournalism using images of slums and tenements in New York to effect social change.

1850 Jane Wigley (England)

 First to use a prism inserted into the camera to reverse the inverted Daguerreotype. (precursor of the TTL viewfinder.)

1854 George Eastman Born (USA)

 Developed dry plates, film with flexible backing, roll holders for the flexible film. Goes on to found Eastman Kodak, which will become the most prolific producer of photographic materials in the world. (d. 1932)

1855 Stereoscopic Era

 The beginning of stereoscopic era, providing affordable home entertainment to the masses with unique 3-D images. The stereoscopic era unofficially ends at about the beginning of the 20th century.

1855 Direct Positive Images

 Direct positive images on glass (ambrotypes) and metal (tintypes or ferrotypes) become popular in the U.S. Surviving direct positives are today seen as sought-after relics of a bygone era.

1857 Eugene Atget (France) Born

 Is born an orphan and by 1914 is gaining recognition in Paris as an acclaimed Art Photographer, photographing the city of Paris and its inhabitants. By the time of his death in 1927, he had left 2000 8x10 glass plate negatives, and over 10,000 prints. (d. 1927)

1862 Paul Sabatier (France)

 Describes Solarization in French journal. He is later given credit for the process but it was Blanchere who first published his observations of the effect in 1859.

1863 Julia Margaret Cameron

 This accomplished and renowned British Photographer receives her first camera.

1864 Alfred Stieglitz (United States)

 Alfred Stieglitz is born. With his gallery "An American Place" in New York, he transforms photography from a mechanical process to an art form on par with painting & sculpting.. (d. 1946)

1871 Richard Leach Maddox (England)

 Invents gelatin dry plate silver bromide process, allows for development of exposed negatives at a later time. This innovation frees photographers from having to develop wet plates onsite.

1874 Lewis Hine (USA) Born

 Photographer for social reform, he documented Ellis Island immigrants, the slums of NYC and was an advocate for child labor laws. Hired by US National Child Labor Committee in 1909 to photograph children working in the coal mines. (d. 1940)

1877 Edward Muybridge

 Edward creates his groundbreaking "The Horse In Motion" series of sequential photographs, pioneering research into the study of motion. Edward went on to invent the Zoopraxiscope, a precursor of the modern movie projector.

1879 Ilford (UK)

 Ilford begins manufacturing photographic materials.

1880 Kodak (USA)

 Founded by George Eastman, introduces the first camera to the general populace.

1886 Edward Weston (USA) Born

 When he was sixteen years old, his father gave him a Kodak Bulls-Eye #2 camera and he began to photograph at his aunt's farm and in Chicago parks. This was the first step in Weston's rise to become one of America's most prolific photographers. Weston's work was about what lies beyond the subject and its form. Weston was for using photography as a transformative process of reducing the subject to its fundamental structure, uniting rational thought and subjective feeling. For Weston, "the thing itself" was not the recording of what was in front of the camera, it was the thing's essence. (d. 1958)

1888 George Eastman (USA)

 Kodak Roll film camera patented by George Eastman.

1888 The Royal Geographic Society

 First published National Geographic in the United States. It becomes the definitive picture narrative of landscapes, geography, and anthropology.

1891 Rodinal

 Rodinal fine grain developer is introduced by Agfa. It is still valued today for it's ease of use and high quality results.

1888 George Eastman

 George Eastman, at age 24, sets up Eastman Dry Plate Company in Rochester, New York. His company produces the first half-tone photograph to appear in a daily newspaper, New York Graphic.

1890 Photography School

 The first schools dedicated to teaching the techniques of photography and retouching open. Only those who could afford the tuition and the time away from their household duties could attend.

1890 Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitsky) (USA) Born

 Born in Pennsylvania, Man Ray expanded the accepted limits of photography by using then experimental methods of photography including the pictograph and solarization. (d. 1976)

1893 Roy Stryker (USA) Born

 Roy Stryker was hired by the Farm Security Administration in 1935 to run the historical section. Stryker would hire Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, et al. to photograph rural hardships over the next six years. Stryker appointed photographer Arthur Rothstein to draft technical and aesthetic guidelines for the photographic campaigns of the Historical Section. Stryker then hires photographers Carl Mydans (up to the summer of 1936 Walker Evans (up to September 1937) and Dorothea Lange (with interruptions up to 1942). (d.1975)

1889 Hannah Hoch (Germany) Born

 The only woman in the Berlin DADA group, working exclusively on Photo-Montage. (d. 1978)

1879 Edward Steichen (USA) Born

 A notable photographer in his own right, Steichen was the first curator of photographs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he curated the famous "Family of Man" exhibition in 1953. (d. 1973)

1851 Collodion (wetplate) process introduced

 A great leap beyond the Daguerrotype and calotype, the collodion process delivers fine details and allows for the production of multiple prints. The collodian process becomes the premiere photographic method during the U.S. Civil War.

1888 Celluloid film invented

 This becomes the forerunner of all modern photographic and motion picture film. The lightweight material, although flammable, makes glass plates obsolete and allows photography to branch out to the general public.

Events In 1900's

1900 Brownie

 Kodak introduces the Brownie, a low cost and extremely simple camera which brings photography to the masses. It enables anyone to become a photographer, and goes on to be one of the most popular consumer cameras of the 20th century.

1902 Ansel Adams (USA) Born

 Ansel Adams is born in San Francisco. Noted for his development of the Zone System, a highly precise method of exposing, developing, and printing B&W images. His epic photographs of the American West - most especially Yosemite National Park - come to symbolize the sheer enormity and beauty of America to people the world over. (d. 1984)

1902 Leni Riefenstahl (Germany) Born

 Known by many as the "Mother of the Documentary" her photographer and cinematography work is also hailed as the hallmark of propaganda filmmaking. Controversy swirls about her name even to this day. Was she a Nazi sympathizer or a documentary and art filmmaker? She claims to have been making art, but she also tells in her book "Hinter den Kulissen des ReichsparteitagFilms" how she helped plan the 1934 Nazi Party convention in Nuremburg with the purpose in mind of making a more effective film. Perhaps the most enduring contribution she has made to photography is the way her work fosters the ongoing discussion on the interconnectivity between art and society and therefore art and politics. (d. 2003)

1906 Lee Miller (USA) Born

 One of the first Staff Photographers for Time and Life, and in 1942 becomes the first official Photographer to the US Army Air Corps where she covered both WWII and the Korean War. She is also the first woman to fly on a bombing mission, which occurred over North Africa. (d. 1977)

1907 Margaret Bourke-White (USA)

 Discoverer of solarization effect. At the age of 22, she moved to Europe to assist and model for Man Ray. During that time, she accidentally stumbled onto the 'Solarization effect' that Man Ray was to use so effectively. She was later commissioned by the U.S. Army to photograph concentration camps, and also shot for Vogue. (d. 1971)

1907 Autochrome plate

 Autochrome plate, the first commercial color film, introduced by the Lumiere brothers in France. The method involved creating an emulsion suspended within a mosaic of potato starch granules and lamp black. Autochromes that have survived in good condition are noted for their startlingly faithful representations of color and detail.

1913 Leica established

 Leica introduces 35mm photography. The first commercial camera, the Leica I, hits the market in 1924.

1923 Diane Arbus (USA)

 Studies photography under Lisette Model, becomes a well known Photographer specializing in Documentary Portraits in New York City, exhibits at Museum of Modern Art New York, later goes on to teach at Parsons, Cooper Union, and RISD. She is known for going where few other photographers would go at the time, to document the fringes of American society. Dies by her own hand in 1971. (d. 2004)

1923 Richard Avedon (USA) Born

 Richard Avedon is born. He becomes perhaps the most prominent and wellrespected American photographer of the second half of the 20th Century.

1932 Photoelectric cell

 First light meter with photoelectric cell introduced.

1932 Group f/64 founded

 American pioneers Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, Willard Van Dyke, John Paul Edwards, and Imogen Cunningham found group f/64. They took the name from their preferred aperture setting, the smallest of the time. The organization continues until 1935 but its philosophy and aesthetic continues in what is known as the West Coast School.

1931 Strobe Photography

 Development of strobe photography by Harold ("Doc") Edgerton at MIT. This eventually leads to the modern photographic flash superceding the disposable flashbulb.

1935 Farm Security Administration

 Farm Security Administration Founded (known as the Resettlement Administration until 1937) One of the FSA's tasks, assigned to the Historic Section, was photographic and sociological documentation of the work of the RA providing pictorial information on rural and small-town living conditions.

1935 Kodachrome

 Kodak introduces Kodachrome, the first color positive transparency film, which also leads to home color motion picture film. Kodachrome becomes the premiere color slide film until the 1990s.

1935 WPA (Works Progress Administration)

 WPA is created by Roosevelt Administration. Notable Photographers from the era are Dorothea Lange (1895 - 1965) and Walker Evans (USA) (1903 -1975)(USA)

1936 Life

 Life magazine is first published. It goes on to become perhaps the most significant image-oriented publication of the 20th century.

1942 Kodak

 Kodak introduced Kodacolor, the first color negative film, enabling color prints to be made.

1937 Lisette Model

 Lisette Model-begins her Photographic venture leading her to an exhibit in New York's Museum of Modern Art in 1940. Worked for Hapers Bazaar 1941-53 and also taught Photography in NYC from 1951-82;one of her students being Diane Arbus.

1943 Russian Galina Sankova

 Russian Galina Sankova-photojournalist and documentarian, photographs Russian children in German concentration camps, during WWII, in a body of work entitled "On the Trail of Horror". One of the most predominant Russian Female Photographers of her time.

1946 Freestyle

 Freestyle is founded by Sam Fatman and Irving Resch in New York selling surplus military film supplies. After a move to Los Angeles, Freestyle continues to this day to offer a complete line of high value products with the creative professional and educator in mind.

1947 Magnum Photos

 Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, and David Seymour start the photographer-owned Magnum picture agency.

1948 Edwin Land (USA)

 Dr. Edwin Land introduces the Polaroid camera to the photo market.

1954 Minor White

 Minor White first publishes magazine Aperture.

1954 Tri-x

 Kodak introduces "Tri-x", as the first high speed B&W film. It is still preferred today for its flexibility, ease of use and classic look.

1954 Cindy Sherman (USA) born

 Rises to prominence with her "Untitled Film Stills". One of the most noted series of self portrait work of the 20th century.

1955 "Family of Man"

 "Family of Man" exhibition is organized by Edward Steichen(USA). It was the first major retrospective of photographs and elevated the medium to art.

1959 Nikon

 Nikon introduces the Nikon F, the first true SLR system camera. The F-series continues to set the standard for SLR photography to this day.

1963 Instant Film

 First color instant film developed by Polaroid

1972 110-format film

 110-format film and cameras introduced by Kodak with a 13x17mm frame. The format remains popular until the 1980s, when it falls out of favor.

1973 C-41

 C-41 color negative process introduced, replacing C-22

1973 One-step

 Instant photography first sold by Polaroid as the SX-70

1981 Ansel Adams

 Ansel Adams purchases his first package of Oriental B&W Paper from Freestyle. We later go on to introduce this well-regarded paper to America. Freestyle continues to offer unique, high value products for the creative photographer.

1984 Canon

 Demonstrates first digital still camera, opening the door to an entirely new age of photography.

1985 Minolta

 Minolta markets the world's first autofocus SLR system (called "Maxxum" in the US)

1986 Arista

 Arista line of Paper and Film are introduced by Freestyle as a value leader in the B&W market.

1990 Adobe Photoshop Released

 The first version of Adobe Photoshop is released, giving birth to the digital darkroom.

1992 PhotoCD

 Kodak introduces PhotoCD

1908 Henri Cartier-Bresson (France) Born

 Regarded as one of the greatest photographers of his time, Henri Cartier-Bresson was a shy Frenchman who elevated "snap shooting" to the level of a refined and disciplined art. His sharp-shooter's ability to catch "the decisive moment," his precise eye for design, his self-effacing methods of work, and his literate comments about the theory and practice of photography made him a legendary figure among contemporary photojournalists. (d. 2004)

1913 Robert Capa (Hungary) born

 One of the pioneers of modern-day political and war photography, Capa wins worldwide fame for his photograph of a soldier frozen at the moment of death while being shot during The Spanish Civil War. His few surviving frames of Omaha Beach become the quintessential images of D-Day. Capa goes on to help found the Magnum Photo Agency in 1947. Dies by stepping on a landmine in Indochina in 1954.

1975 E-6 Slide Processing

 Modern E-6 slide processing is introduced.

Events In 2000's

2002 Arista.EDU

 Arista.EDU is introduced by Freestyle as a low price, high quality line of B&W films and papers with the educator in mind.

2005 Arista.EDU Ultra and Arista II

 Arista.EDU Ultra and Arista II is released.

2006 Varycon, Slavich

 Freestyle introduces American audiences to Varycon and Slavich B&W paper, from Croatia and Russia, respectively.

2005 Agfa

 Longtime German giant AGFA goes out of business.

2007 Forte

 Hungarian paper & film manufacturer goes out of business.