History of Photography Development | World Photography Day


In 1837, Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, both French inventors, introduced the daguerreotype photographic process. On August 19, 1839, the French government purchased the patent and declared this invention a "gift to the world." As a result, August 19 was designated World Photography Day, celebrating the art, craft, science, and historical development of photography.

With nearly two centuries of history since the inception of photography, each era has left behind countless iconic images, bearing witness to the evolution of human civilization and the history of photography.

From the earliest film cameras to SLRs, digital cameras, and now the omnipresent "camera phones," photography has evolved from an exclusive art form to the most widespread "art for all."

1. First Photographic Apparatus and Permanent Image

Early photographic apparatus lacked stable and clear imaging mediums, so they couldn't be called cameras yet. In 1852, Frenchman Niépce used his giant camera obscura to invent the "heliography" process, capturing images permanently. This led to the creation of the iconic "View from the Window at Le Gras," although the quality was blurry, it was still astonishing.
First Photographic Apparatus and Permanent ImageFirst Photographic Apparatus and Permanent Image

View from the Window at Le Gras

2. The First Camera

From the day photography was invented, Daguerre, along with the Giroux company, manufactured and sold the first batch of Daguerreotype cameras. The camera was named the Daguerreotype camera. The equipment included the camera, developing box, chemicals, and tools for polishing metal plates, and weighed a total of 50 kilograms, selling for 400 French francs.

"Father of Photography" - Louis Daguerre of France and His Invention of the First Camera

"The Corner of the Studio" - This is the earliest surviving "Daguerreotype" photograph, and it is the world's first still life photograph.
"Corner of the Studio" - This is the earliest surviving "Daguerreotype" photograph, and it is the world's first still life photograph.
Boulevard du Temple
"Boulevard du Temple" is the world's first photograph that was commercially sold. The exposure time for this photograph was 20 minutes. Although there were many carriages and people on the street, none of them were captured except for a shoe shiner, making this photograph the first to capture a human figure in an image by chance.

3. The First Small Film Camera and the First Roll Film

In 1884, Kodak's founder George Eastman invented the world's first roll film, and to promote it, he introduced the pocket-sized camera "Kodak No. 1" in June 1888, priced at just $5, marking the history of small cameras.

The world's first compact camera - Kodak Box Camera

4. The First Camera Using 35mm Film

Oskar Barnack, the head of research at Leitz (Leica) Company, was a highly talented mechanical engineer and an enthusiastic photography enthusiast. He was captivated by the 35mm film used in motion picture cameras. To make it more convenient for himself, he specifically designed a compact camera that utilized 35mm film and could capture 24×36mm format frames. This camera was intended for test shots as a reference for exposing motion pictures. Equipped with a 42mm lens and a 1/40-second shutter speed, it had the capacity to take 40 frames of film. This innovation marked the creation of the world's first 135 format camera.

5. The First Twin-Lens Reflex Camera

In 1929, the German Franke & Heidecke company manufactured the Rolleiflex camera, the world's first twin-lens reflex camera. This marked a new phase in the development of photography technology.
The world's first twin-lens reflex camera - Rolleiflex
The world's first twin-lens reflex camera - Rolleiflex

6. The First Polaroid Camera

In 1948, Polaroid Corporation introduced the world's first instant imaging camera, known as the "Model 95 Land Camera." This innovative camera could develop a photograph within a minute after taking the shot. Polaroid's imaging technology became renowned for its speed, distinctive colors, and the unique characteristic of each photograph, accentuated by the element of uncertainty in the final image. This novel approach captured the attention and admiration of artists and creators alike.
Polaroid Model 95
Official Sample Images of Polaroid 95

7. The First Digital Camera

The world's first digital camera was born in 1975 at a laboratory in New York, USA. The inventor of this digital camera was Steven J. Sasson, a technical personnel at Kodak. This pioneering camera, with a vintage charm, boasted an exposure time of 50 milliseconds, requiring 23 seconds to record a single image. Each cassette tape could store up to 30 photographs, albeit in monochrome. The camera was powered by a set of 16 AA batteries during the capture process, while a standard 300-foot Philips digital cassette tape served as the storage medium.
Father of Digital Camera - Steven Sasson and the First Digital Camera
Father of Digital Camera - Steven Sasson and the First Digital Camera
The First Digital Image in History

8. The First Consumer Digital SLR

In 1990, Kodak introduced the first commercially available digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera, the DCS100. It utilized a Nikon film camera body and was priced between $10,000 and $20,000. The DCS 100 digital camera showcased highly innovative features for its time, including a "video output" function for preview/playback on an LCD screen. What's more, it achieved a significant milestone by surpassing the one million pixel mark, boasting a resolution of 1.3 million pixels. As the inaugural professional-grade digital camera, the Kodak DCS 100 excelled in terms of resolution, photographic performance, and image quality, standing as the pinnacle of its era.
The First Consumer Digital SLR - DCS100

9. The First Consumer Digital Camera

In 1994, Kodak partnered with Apple to launch the first consumer digital camera, the QuickTake 100. This product, priced at $749 at the time, can be seen as the pioneer of the era of consumer-grade digital cameras.
The First Consumer-Level Digital Camera - QuickTake 100
The First Consumer-Level Digital Camera - QuickTake 100
On December 20, 1996, Tim Holmes captured the historic moment of Steve Jobs' triumphant return using the QuickTake 100 digital camera. This camera, released by Apple, was among the pioneering consumer-level digital cameras. It marked a significant step in making digital photography more accessible to the general public.

10. The First Camera Phone

In the year 2000, Sharp, in collaboration with the then Japanese mobile operator J-PHONE, introduced the world's first camera phone, the J-SH04. This phone featured a 110,000-pixel CCD camera, a 96×130-pixel 256-color LCD screen, and polyphonic ringtones. It adopted the prevailing design trend of slender, elongated candy-bar-style bodies characteristic of Japanese phones at the time. Despite being the world's first camera phone, the J-SH04 didn't cause a significant sensation during its era.
World's First Camera Phone - J-SH04
World's First Camera Phone - J-SH04

World Photography Day is a celebration of the remarkable journey of photography, from its humble beginnings to its integration into everyday life. As we commemorate this day, let's remember that every person has the potential to capture moments, tell stories, and contribute to the rich tapestry of visual history.

In Summary

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