THE BIRTH OF PHOTOGRAPHY
the beginning of time people have been fascinated with the ability
to encapsulate and perpetuate the living into the form of an image.
We can trace back drawings of animals in caves to the last stages
of the Paleolithic era, about 20,000 years ago.
NICEPHORE NIEPCE (1765-1833)
It was not until 1826 that Niepce took the very first photograph using
a camera. The photograph was taken from the window of his Paris home
of a nearby pigeon house and barn. Niepce called his pictures "Heliographs,"
which were exposed on pewter plate measuring 8 inches by 6 ½ inches,
that had been sensitized with bitumen. The agonizing exposure would
sometime take up to eight hours. Niepce formed a partnership with
Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre to continue the "New Art". Unfortunately,
Niepce died of a stroke in 1833 and left Daguerre to perfect the New
Art all by himself.
JACQUES MANDE DAGUERRE (1787-1851)
This French painter was actively engaged in trying to secure permanent
images with a camera obscura before entering into partnership in 1829
with Niepce. The latter had experimented with iodized plates (both
pewter and silver-coated metal plates) before his death in 1833, but
Daguerre alone perfected the finally adopted method of sensitizing
the silver plates with the fumes of iodine. In 1837 and 1838, Mr.
Daguerre attempted to sell, or interest subscribers in his "daguerreotype"
invention, but then the director of the Paris Observatory (Francois
Arago) stepped into the picture. Arago used his influence to have
France purchase Mr. Daguerre's invention and make it available to
the entire world. Within a year, manuals covering the daguerreotype
process were published in eight languages, and in thirty-two separate
editions. The process was a No-Negative one, but for nearly two decades
it served as the worlds principal mode of photography. (see Morse
for more information)
H. FOX TALBOT (1800-1877)
Talbot of England was not aware of Daguerre's activities. He experimented
with photography and in 1835 he succeeded in securing images on plain
writing paper, which he sensitized with silver chloride. Because he
was so preoccupied with research in other scientific fields, he did
not have the time to make a formal report of his discoveries before
Daguerre did in Paris. Talbot called his new invention "Photogenic
OF PHOTOGRAPHY IN AMERICA
Locke was the first American ever to exhibit photographs to the public.
Locke was a professor of chemistry and pharmacy at the Medical College
of Ohio. He exhibited specimens of photographs using Talbot's method
("photogenic drawings") in a bookstore in Ohio. He also produced the
first photograph on paper (May 1839) in America.
F. B. MORSE (1791-1872)
The inventor of the telegraph. Professor Morse of New York who along
with his brothers were publishers of the "New York Observer" was very
interested in the "New Art". He met Daguerre in Paris March seventh
and eighth of 1839, to discuss the new invention and wrote back to
his brothers with great details about it. They published his letter
in May 18, 1839 issue of the New York Observer:
" A few
days ago I addressed a note to M. Daguerre requesting, as a stranger,
the favor to see his results, and inviting him in turn to see my
Telegraph. I was politely invited to see them under these circumstances,
for he had determined not to show them again, until the Chambers
had passed definitely on a proposition for the Government to purchase
the secret of the discovery, and make it public.... I called on
M. Daguerre, at his rooms in the Diorama, to see these admirable
results. They are produced on a metallic surface, the principal
piece about 7" by 5", and they resemble aquatint engravings, for
they are in simple chiaro-oscuro, and not in colors.... No painting
or engraving ever approached it....."
established a good friendship with Mr. Daguerre and developed a great
interest for the new art. Having been the first to provide American
readers with a personal report on Daguerre's invention, Morse was
among the first to take up its practice upon his return to New York.
He had many great students such as Mathew Brady and Edward Anthony,
who all later started very successful businesses. He also produced
the first daguerreotype of still life ever taken in the United States.
It was taken in the late summer of 1839 of the Unitarian Church on
Broadway in New York City. The second daguerreotype was taken in September
27, 1839 by D.W. SEAGER of St. Paul's Church (the church is still
here in New York city, at Broadway and Fulton St). News of Daguerre's invention was published in American as well as
European newspapers in the first three months of 1839. Daguerre sent
an agent by the name of Francois Gouraud, who came to New York in
November 1839 to hold exhibits and lectures first in New York and
then in Boston. Daguerre took out a patent both in France and England
for the daguerreotype, before the French government purchased the
rights to it. Daguerre did not patent the daguerreotype in America
for some strange reason. Therefore, there were no restrictions on
its practice or further development in the United States. The "New
Art" of daguerreotyping spread all over Europe and the United States
like fire. In the first year of photography, the average American
thought the photographers did some type of magical hocus-pocus in
the "dark room". They would often ask questions such as: "what do
you do in there, do you say something over it?" New York, Boston and
Philadelphia were the principal scenes of action during the first
year of the daguerreotype.
AMERICAN CIVIL WAR AND PHOTOGRAPHY
Anthony learned photography from Samuel F. B. Morse. In 1847 he gave
up his practice to open up a photographic supplies business whose
name E. & H. T. Anthony & Co., became world famous after the American
Civil War. As soon as the wet plate colodian (negative) process became
popular in the United States, Edward Anthony would rent negatives
from prominent photographers such as Mathew Brady and would print
and sell the photographs. Most of these photographs are CDV's and
stereo cards and have his name or logo on them. He published a monthly
catalog of "card photographs" of famous personalities that could be
purchased by mail order. He had two photographic supply building which
were adjacent to each other. Each building had four floors, 100' x
30' . It was a known fact that Edward Anthony had the world's largest
photographic supply stores. One store was located at the corner of
Elm & and Center Street in New York City. He had another very large
store at the bottom of Broadway, and also in New Jersey. Over three
hundred experienced workers were employed everyday in his three branches;
they produced over 2016 frames per day. Their goods went all over
the world, being regularly sold in London, Paris, Spain, Germany,
Australia, China, Japan, the West Indies and they almost had an exclusive
in South America.
Born in Scotland, Gardner made a living as a journalist and jeweler
until he was hired by Mathew Brady. In January 1857, after failing
to secure a job as a jeweler or journalist, Gardner went to the famous
"Brady of Broadway" (Mathew Brady) seeking a job. This was the beginning
of a life long devotion to photography.