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Early Photographers - 19th Century

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Early Photographers - 19th Century

Image Right - Tent camera Obscura

Please link the profiles of any ancestors, from any country) whose profession involved photography (not necessarily of note) to this project.

See Also Notable Photographers

19th C Timeline of Photography

(Extract from

1790 Thomas Wedgewood, in England, made photograms by placing objects on leather sensitized with silver nitrate.

1801 Thomas Young propounded the 'three colour' idea of light.

1816 In France the Niepce brothers initiated experiments to create images using light-sensitive materials.

1826 Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833) a French doctor, produced the world's first photograph using pewter plates in a camera obscura.

1835 Niépce and L.J.M. Daguerre produced the world's first daguerrotype photograph.

1838 Charles Wheatstone discovered stereoscopic projection.

1839 Daguerre was awarded an annuity by the French government and his process was given to the world.

1841 Fox Talbot's calotype process was patented. This was the world's first multi-copy photographic process, using a negative/positive process, and material sensitized with silver iodide.

1842 Fox Talbot began publication of The Pencil of Nature to indicate the range and possibilities of photography.

1843 Hill and Adamson began to use calotypes for portrait photography in Edinburgh. They took photographs of the nearly 500 ministers gathered for their mass resignation from the Church of Scotland and the subsequent formation of the Free Church.

1846 German optical instrument factory opened at Jena by Carl Zeiss.

1847 Louis Desire Blanquart-Evrard improved and modified Fox Talbot's calotype process and set up a printing business in Lille, France.

1849 David Brewster invented the stereoscopic viewer.

1851 Frederick Scott Archer introduced the wet collodion process -- the 'wet plate' process.

1851 Stereo daguerrotypes by Jules Duboscq were shown at the Great Exhibition in London.

1851 Fox Talbot used an exposure of 1/1000 of a second to demonstrate high speed photography.

1852 Fox Talbot patented a prototype of photoengraving.

1852 Bausch and Lomb Optical Co. was set up in Rochester, New York.

1853 The New York Daily Tribune estimated that in the USA three million daguerreotypes are being produced annually.

1855 Roger Fenton made photographs of the Crimean War using a specially constructed caravan with a portable darkroom.

1857-60 Robertson and Beato photographed the Indian Mutinies; Beato photographed conflicts in China and Japan; Francis Frith photographed in Egypt and opened a view postcard business.

1859 Gaspard-Felix Tournachan (1820-1910), using the pseudonym 'Nadar', made photographs underground in Paris using battery-powered arc lamps.

1859 Napoleon III sat for his portrait by Disderi. Soon hundreds of copies of this were selling daily.

1860 Queen Victoria was photographed by Mayall. Abraham Lincoln was photographed by Matthew Brady for political campaigning.

1861 The single lens reflex plate camera was patented by Thomas Sutton.

1861 James Clerk Maxwell, to test the three-colour theory of light (see 1801 above) instructed Thomas Sutton in an experiment which was demonstrated at the Royal Institute in London.

1861-65 Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and colleagues provided a searchingly honest photographic record of the American Civil War.

1862 Nadar took aerial photographs over Paris.

1863-75 Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) used long lenses in her distinctive portraiture work.

1868 Thomas Annan began documenting slum areas of Glasgow.

1869 Louis Ducos du Hauron published Les Coleurs en Photographie: Solution du Probleme in which he outlined how colour photographs could be made as either prints or transparencies.

1869 Henry Peach Robinson published Pictorial Effect in Photography, trying to acquaint fellow photographers with aesthetic concepts.

1871 Dry photographic plates were invented. Within the decade these were being mass produced, factory-packed, and could readily be stored.

1874 Julia Margaret Cameron undertook photographs to illustrate Tennyson's Idylls of the King.

1877 The first electrically-lit photographic studio was opened in Regent Street, London.

1877-78 John Thompson teams up with the journalist Adolphe Smith to investigate and show the day to day conditions of the London poor. The series of pamphlets resulting from this, Street Life in London, is the first photographically illustrated work to deal with social life.

1878 Edward Muybridge in the USA analysed the movement of animals through sequential photographs using a series of cameras and trip devices.

1879 Lewis Carroll (the Rev. Charles Dodgson) an assiduous photographer, especially of young girls, began a new phase in his photographic career by portraying nude little girls. This caused some local scandal.

1880 Half-tone engraving process was first used to produce newpaper photographs (in New York).

1880 The first twin lens reflex camera is produced in London.

1881 Frederick E. Ives invented a process for making reproductions in colour: the trichromatic half-tone plate.

1886 Peter Henry Emerson, together with the painter Thomas F. Goodall, produced a limited edition portfolio of images called Life and Landscapes on the Norfolk Broads.

1886 Frederick E. Ives developed the half-tone engraving process whereby photographic and other images could be reproduced simultaneously with text.

1888 Eastman company in the USA produced the Kodak No.1 camera and roll film, thus taking a big step toward universal hand-held snapshots. With the slogan 'You press the button and we do the rest', the major innovation was the combination of a ready-loaded camera with a developing and printing service.

1890 George Davison exhibited The Onion Field in the royal Photographic Society's Annual Exhibition.

1890 The first independent speed rating for all emulsions was devised by two British scientists, Hurter and Driffield. The ratings were known as 'H & D numbers'.

1890 Photographs started to supplant hand-drawn illustrations in popular publications.

1891 Gabriel Lippmann of the Sorbonne succeeded in producing a coloured image directly in the camera from one exposure, using the principle of light interference first investigated by Newton.

1892 The Linked Ring was formed. A society dedicated to the furthering of artistic photography. The members sought impressionistic images, often by using various manipulated printing and other techniques. Soft visual effects were often preferred.

1893 The flash-bulb was invented, a glass bulb filled with magnesium-coated metal ribbon, ignited electrically.

1895 The Lumière brothers demonstrated a cinema projector capable of showing 16 frames a second.

1899 'The New School of American Photography' the first major exhibition of American pictorial photography was held at the Royal Photographic Society. It consisted of 360 images by such photographers as: F. Holland Day; Edward Steichen; Gertrude Kasebier; and Clarence White.

1900 Frederick H Evans exhibited 150 platinum prints at the Royal Photographic Society. Evans was known as a prime exponent of 'pure photography': images that were un-retouched and un-manipulated. A slightly later image (from 1903) Sea of Steps taken at the Chapter House at Wells Cathedral is a much reproduced example of his work.

1900 The Kodak Brownie camera was introduced.

References and Sources
// this project is in History Link