The fascinating evolution of photography from Daguerreotype to digital images

How did we come to have cameras on our phone?
Loukia Papadopoulos

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Photography began back in 1800 when British inventor Thomas Wedgwood realized one could, in theory, preserve the image produced by a camera obscura via the use of a light-sensitive substance. The early images produced via this method were grainy and faded quickly, but they were the foundation for the first commercially available photographic process: the Daguerreotype introduced in 1839 by Louis Daguerre.

Daguerre used a special technique that involved polishing a sheet of silver-plated copper, treating it with iodine vapor, developing the image by exposing the plate to heated mercury, and “fixing” the image in place with hot salt water. Although this might seem like a lot of work, the process took just minutes and produced what was at the time considered very impressive results.

Many other technologies were invented after the Daguerreotype but it wasn't until 1885 that what some consider the biggest early breakthrough in photography came to be. It was the introduction of film and it laid the foundation for the photography we have today.

What was this new and advanced technology? Why did it forever change photography? What other key developments were made to get to today's cameras? This video answers all these questions and more.

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