Our Life in the Pacific Northwest

World Photography Day


August 19th is World Photography Day. The image above is what I woke up to this morning on Facebook after being tagged by a friend. The point of this day is to celebrate the art of photography. Back in 2010 a group of photographers set aside this specific day for everyone in the photography community to share a single photo of what their view of the world is. This event caught on, and 6 years later it’s even more popular now because of the significant rise in photography enthusiasts.

My take on this day is to focus on (and share) how far photography has come since August 19th, 1839 when the patent for the Daguerreotype (one of the earliest forms of practical photography) was released to the public.

Prior to that, a man named Joseph Nicephore Niepce invented a process by which the photograph (heliograph) was “drawn by light”, requiring eight hours of light exposure to create, and after appearing would soon fade away. (Imagine taking an 8-hour selfie!)


   (The first American Daguerreotype photograph)

In 1839, Louis Daguerre invented a more effective method.  He was able to reduce exposure time to less than 30 minutes, and keep the image from disappearing afterward just by adding a silver chloride bath to the process. He then sold the rights to the French Government who then published the process for the public. By 1850 there were over 70 Daguerreotype studios in New York City.

Then came the Tintype, my favorite form of early photography and one that I will experiment with in the near future.  Tintype photography is a process by which a photograph is produced on a piece of lacquered iron usually referred to as a wet plate negative. It was patented in 1856 by Hamilton Smith and had the longest success of any 19th-century photographic process in history. It was inexpensive, less difficult, and could be done in the field with a mobile darkroom, which was useful during the Civil War.


Tintype photography has made a return to modern times, and there are studios providing this service to the public. Even Seattle has one or two Tintype studios!

George Eastman then came along in 1889 and invented roll film and the mass produced box camera became a reality. The first instant camera was introduced in 1948 by Polaroid.


Fast forward to 1984 when the first digital camera was introduced which would usher in the digital age by the late 1990’s.  We sure have come a long way!

Today, millions of pictures are uploaded every minute without even a thought about the origin of photography, or the evolution of the modern day camera. World Photography Day might be the day to do just that.


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