Art Force Academy

A Brief History of Photography

From the camera obscura to a smartphone, the camera has seen quite an evolution over the past couple hundred years. While this is only a brief outline of photography, the camera, and their developments, it’s a crash course into their complex histories, highlighting the key points.

1814: Camera Obscura – Although similar technology had been used for centuries, it was not until the 19th century the camera obscura began to create photographs (previously, the camera obscura as used only for viewing and drawing images. Latin for “dark room,” a camera obscura consisted of a dark box with a convex lens that projected an external object’s inverted image onto an internal screen. Similar technology dates back to the ancient Chinese and Greeks.

1838 – Located in Paris, the first photograph that included a person was taken by Louis Daguerre The exposure time for the photograph was roughly seven minutes, and although the street would have been busy, it appears empty as the movements on the street were to rapid for such a long exposure to capture. The man depicted is having his shoes shined, and due to his extended stillness, was captured in the photograph.

1900: The Brownie introduced the concept of the snapshot. The first Brownie was a simple cardboard box with a meniscus lens that took small square photos on 117 rollfilm. Priced at $1, the Brownie was designed to be affordable for anyone. The Brownie was partly named after the camera designer, Frank Brownwell and a popular children’s cartoon character.

1963: The Polaroid SX-70 Land –The SX-70 was the first instant single lens reflex (SLR) camera, as well as the first camera to use Polaroid’s new automatically developed print film. With a folding body design, the camera could collapse down to fit in a pocket. Fun fact about Polaroid: In 1978, Christopher Makos taught Andy Warhol how to use a camera. Warhol would often use his Polaroid to shoot photos on which he would base his prints.

1978: Konica C35 AF -Nicknamed “Jasupin,” the Konica C35 AF was the first autofocus camera. Introducing the idea of the point-and-shoot AF 35mm cameras, this innovation would lead to countless cameras and manufacturers to use similar technology.

1986: Fuji Utsurun-Desu – The first disposable camera was created by Fujifilm, which utilized 35mm film.  The camera was titled Utsurun-Desu, translating to “it takes pictures.” Due to its instant popularity, other camera companies, such as Konica, Canon, and Nikon soon produced their own models.

2007: iPhone – Apple introduce the first generation iPhone in 2007, which drastically increased and changed public use of the camera. The smartphone’s widespread assimilation into contemporary culture has led to greater documentation and sharing of everyday life, while also creating the selfie.

2008: Polaroid stopped making instant film. Impossible Project, and other camera manufacturers, continue produce instant film cameras.

2014: The world’s most famous selfies was taken at the Oscars by Ellen DeGeneres and included Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong’o, Kevin Spacey, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, and Meryl Streep.

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