When Did Photography Start?

As an amazing combination between art and technology, you might wonder: "When was photography invented?"

Well, the question of when did photography start is interesting, considering how far it has come in less than 200 years. Just imagine how far cameras and optics have come. From one the size of your chest and taking a blurry black & white photograph, to being a high-tech system in your phone.

No doubt, the history of photography might be short, but it's jam packed with new inventions and fascinating technology. 

So if you want to learn more about the question: when did photography start, this article will tell you everything you need to know.

When Did Photography Start?

  1. When were Cameras Invented? 
  2. Is Photography considered art?
  3. The Daguerreotype
  4. When did Color Photography Start?

When were Cameras Invented?

You'd be surprised to find out how long the concept of a "camera" has been around. After all, a camera doesn't necessarily need to record images. The first cameras simply projected them onto another surface. 

In the 11th century an Iraqi scientist developed the camera obscura, which did just that. The images would be displayed upside down, and were typically used for tracing objects. These were the very first cameras.

The camera obscura functioned by using a pinhole in a tent to project an image onto a darkened area. These devices were pretty massive, and didn't become small enough to be carried around until the 17th century.

However, a camera as we would define it today would come later in the 18th century. 


When did Photography Start?

When Did Photography Start - First Photograph Sepia

To answer the question of when did photography start, we need to go back a few hundred years.

The oldest photograph was captured in 1826 by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. He used a portable camera obscura to expose a pewter plate coated with bitumen to light. The image was incredibly simple, just some grainy architecture reflections, but still unheard of at the time. 


Was There Photography in the 1800s?

Yes! After Niépce's work became widely known, it wasn't long until portraits became commonplace. Some of the earliest known portraits date back to the 1840s!


The Daguerreotype

When Did Photography Start - Colour Photography

While Niépce's technique was the catalyst, his collaboration with Louis Daguerre led to an even more exciting invention. The two created the daguerreotype, which is the ancestor of nearly all modern photography. 

The device was fashioned from a silver coated copper plate that would be exposed to iodine vapor before being exposed to light. This process would take up to 15 minutes to create a permanent image. 

Overall, this was the first camera that would fit into our modern idea of what cameras are, and wouldn't be replaced until the 1850s.


When did Color Photography Start?

When discussing the question of when did photography start, many also wonder about colored photography. When did color photography start? After all, we all know about how historic the Wizard of Oz was; a movie made in 1939. 

When Did Color Photography Start - Edward Weston

So, knowing that, you might be surprised to find out that the first colored photograph was taken in 1861! Scottish scientist James Clerk Maxwell captured the ribbon shown above using his color theory. 

First he had to take a series of black-and-white photographs. These photographs would be processed through green, blue-violet, and red filters. Then, he projected these three separate images simultaneously onto a screen to create a colored image. 


When Did Photography Start in America?

When Did Photography Start - John Quincy Adams First Photograph

Really, photography in America can be traced back as far as it’s invention. For instance, the photo above is of John Quincy Adams, who served from 1825-1829. He was the first president to have his photo taken.

However, photography didn’t become commonplace in the United States until the late 1830s, when the Daguerreotype was invented. 


Up Next: What is Photography?

Now that you know the answer to the question: When did Photography Start?, you’re ready to dive into the wonderful world of modern photography! 

A great place to start is with your camera bag and other gear. We recommend The Voyager camera backpack, as it’s equipped to handle your photography needs. It's lightweight, spacious, and even water-resistant. You’ll also never miss a shot using the quick draw side access.

Additionally, you never know when you might need a tech pouch or portable power bank for maintaining your camera and accessories.

And, if you want to learn more about what photography is, check out our article on just that. 

Up Next: What is Photography? →

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