The History of Photography

Photography begins with a simple invention called the "Camera Obscura". It is used for perspective drawing. A lens is pointed toward the desired image. It is then projected upside down onto a piece of paper. An artist traces the image. German astronomer Johannes Kepler is credited with first using the term in 1604. It means "dark room" in Latin.

As technology progressed, German professor Johann Heinrick Schultz was able to record an image on silver nitrate paper in 1717. However, the image could not be sustained permanently. By 1822, French artist Louis Daguerra had created the first real camera. Called the "Daguerra Type", it engraved an image onto a metal plate coated in bitumen. The product was known as "heliograph". After partnering with Joseph Niepce, Daguerra was finally able to produce the first permanent image in 1827. Titled "View from the Window at Les Gras", it is the oldest surviving photograph today.

At its core, photography is the art of creating images by exposing special paper to light. The term "photography" is created from two Greek words, "photo" – meaning "light" – and "graph", meaning "to record". Centuries after its invention, photography is still wildly popular and widely available. It is usually classified by one of three styles: artistic, documentary, and commercial.

Artistic photography is wide ranging. It can span from the highly realistic to the abstract. In this category, a photographer tries to tell a story with his image. It can feature elements of nature, urban life, other people, stationary objects, or any combination in between.

Documentary photography differs slightly from artistic photography. It is more focused and tries to tell a story based in real life, rather than fantasy. A photographer sets out to document something – usually other people – and tries to tell their story over a period of time using a series of photographs.

Commercial photography can vary greatly in subject matter. The difference is that the photographer is being paid by a client for specific types of pictures. The photographer may be documenting a wedding, a fashion show, or a fundraiser. Photographers here often use equipment to enhance the appearance of their subject matter. Over time this has resulted in the emergence of new and unconventional methods to achieve their desired effect.

Photography is an art the involves a great deal of introspection. The further you go, the more you will begin to understand what subjects motivate you, and what you want the viewer to see. The possibilities of photography are endless, which is why it remains so popular today.