All You Need to Know About The Evolution of Photography and Its Timeline

Today in this article, I will tell you about the evolution of photography and its timeline with the illustrative images and show you the first photograph of history. The history and evolution of photography are full of ups and downs, incredible discoveries, envy, and competition, and its evolutionary tree goes back to the 5th century BC.


  1. Hole in The Wall
  2. The First Photograph in The History of Mankind
  3. Mercury Fun
  4. World Photography Day
  5. Time of The First
  6. Color of The Nation
  7. Timeline of The Evolution Of Photographic Equipment
  8. First Selfie
  9. 19th Century Photoshop
  10. The Emergence of Brands

The Evolution of Photography

The Evolution of Photography
The Evolution of Photography and Timeline

Hole in The Wall

This story began with an ordinary hole. Light penetrated through the circular opening into the room, reflecting on the opposite wall. The object through which the sunbeam passed appeared on the wall in an inverted form and a mirror image. The effect was first described by the philosopher Aristotle.

Hole in The Wall

The artists quickly figured out how to use a natural phenomenon for drawing from life. This method was used in his work by Leonardo da Vinci, Jan Vermeer, Rembrandt.

The technology of making a “shed” for painting has been known since the 10th century AD, but it was only in the 17th century that the first miniature camera obscura was created.

miniature camera obscura

A lens was used to focus the light stream. Later, the camera received a retractable eye, similar to that used by Galileo in the first telescope.

retractable eye camera

If desired, such a device can be assembled at home in a couple of minutes from available tools.

assembled camera at home

The box (pinhole) is not yet a camera since it cannot save an image. After all, the back wall is just a polished piece of wood or canvas.

Silver-plated copper plates were used to preserve the first images. Later, photographers switched to glass, celluloid, and digital media.

The First Photograph in The History of Mankind

In 1822, the inventor Joseph Niepce, had some fun with chemicals, trying to find a way to preserve the image without having to paint it by hand. Together with him, several hundred other artists and eccentric scientists were doing the same in different parts of the world. After a series of unsuccessful experiments, he managed to find a formula for the conservation of light.

Joseph Niepce smeared a thin layer of asphalt varnish (bitumen) on the surface of a copper plate covered with silver, inserted it into a camera obscura with a lens pointed at the laboratory window, and went for a walk for 8 hours. To develop the image, he used lavender oil mixed with kerosene.

First Photo of History
First Photograph of The Photography History

The full title of the first photograph is “View from the window at Le Gras.” Let’s face it – so-so kind. But Niepce was pleased with the result and began to work on improving the lithography process.

In his advanced years, the old master shared his scientific research with a competitor, the artist Dagger, popular in France. Dagger studied photography only through a monetary prism, longing for wealth and fame. By combining efforts, they managed to create a light show – the “magician” changed the angle of incidence of the light, and another picture appeared under one picture. The invention received the name – diorama. Niepce transferred all his developments to Dagger.

You may also like to read: The First Photograph - The Very First Photo of The History

Mercury Fun

A new round of the evolution of photographic equipment happened by chance. Dagger locked the plates in the closet for the night, and in the morning, he found a surprisingly clear image. The inventor tried all the reagents in the box. The best result was shown by mercury vapor heated to 40-50 degrees. He covered new plates with a mixture of mercury and silver called amalgam. The picture was both negative and positive at the same time, depending on which angle it was rotated. Development took only 15 minutes instead of 8 hours.

The artist called his discovery “daguerreotype,” and amateurs came up with a more poetic name – “mirror with a memory.”

World Photography Day

Having opened a workshop, Dagger began to rent cameras and offer “instant” photo development services with a subscription of 1,000 francs. The French categorically disagreed with such a price list. The offended artist decided to sell the patent for 200,000 francs, but after a fire in the laboratory, he agreed to transfer the technology to the state for a pension of 6,000 francs a year.

France presented this invention to the world on January 7, 1839. The Day of Photography is celebrated on this date every year.

Time of The First

Immediately after the promulgation of the technology, many followers appeared, influencing the development of photography.

In 1844, William Talbot created the world’s first photo album by attaching objects to a plate. After printing the leaves of all the trees, he could get to, Talbot names his collection “The Pencil of Nature.”

In 1851, Scott Archer created a new method of wet printing – calotype, reducing the exposure of the daguerreotype by 50 times.

wet printing - calotype

Fashion photographers still use this ancient method to create super-accurate and eerie images today. You need to attach the glass to the photographic paper, and voila!

Calotype is the creation of positives on photographic paper using colloidal solutions.

In 1851, journalist Roger Fenton covered the Russian-Crimean War, taking the world’s first photographs from the scene.

first photographs from the scene

The photographer’s kit consisted of an Obscura box and a laboratory van.

In 1853, thanks to Levy Hill, the right color photograph appears utilizing halochromism.

RGB – Red, Green, Blue

1861 – James Maxwell demonstrates a new way of obtaining color photographs – a three-color box. A relatively simple idea found an elegant execution – three color filters for three lenses, when combining images, gave a color print.

First Color Print
First Color Print

The photo shows a plaid ribbon. The filter makes the fabric appear bulky.

moving pictures

In 1878, Edward Muybridge created moving pictures – on one plate, several images of a moving object can be transferred to paper, create an album and browse through.

1871 the physician Richard Maddox perfects the calotype method by replacing the decks with gelatin. A glass substrate is used as a base, on which a silver-gelatin emulsion is applied. The revolutionary idea of Maddox was that the new carrier could be rolled up.

The first camera was a closed box with a film of 100 photos loaded inside.

For those who like to “click” in nature, this shaitan machine is the same as the Maxim machine gun for the arquebusier of the 17th century. Weight – 500 grams, dimensions 230 in length and 150×15 millimeters in height and width.


After the shooting, the “box” with the contents was sent to the factory; the camera was reloaded with a new film, the photographs were developed and sent by parcel post together with the equipment to the customer.

First Portable Camera
First Portable Camera

In 1888, the first Kodak portable camera with replaceable rolls of film was introduced.

First Kodak Portable Camera
First Kodak Portable Camera

The Instant Freezer got its classic shape in April 1914. Since the 1930s, the lenses can be unscrewed. The cameras were explicitly designed for Kodak’s 35mm narrow-format film, which is widely used in cinematography.

Color of the Nation

Color of the Nation

Proskudin-Gorsky is a Russian photographer who made unique color photographs of Tsarist Russia during 1904-1912. One thousand nine hundred photographs were compiled and shown to the last Emperor Nicholas II.

Proskudin-Gorsky improved the photography technique of his teacher Adolf Mitte and created a world masterpiece. A complete archive of photos with a filter by area is available here.

Leonid Parfenov shot a fantastic film, The Color of the Nation, revealing the personality and details of a unique work that has preserved the appearance of the Russian Empire. The photographs are now in the US Library of Congress.

Timeline of The Evolution of Photographic Equipment

  • 1910 – Focal-plane shutter camera is introduced, allowing exposure selection.
  • 1934 – Canon invents the focal-plane shutter camera.
  • 1935 – The first Kodachrome color film.
  • 1957 – Russell Kirsch’s first digital photograph.
  • 1962 – Pentax fisheye lens with 180-degree field of view.
  • 1968 – Leica creates a DSLR.
  • 1972 – The legendary Polaroid SX70 is introduced – the first automatic camera with instant photo development.
  • 1975 Stephen Sasson creates the first mass-produced digital camera, with a resolution of 0.01 megapixels.
  • 1986 – The first disposable cardboard chamber.
  • 1988 – Fuji’s camera with a memory card appears.
  • 1999 – Nikon D1 – a serial DSLR at an affordable price.
  • 2000 – First camera phone Sharp J-SH04.

Attention, Now A Bird Will Fly Out!

Blinding is how the unfortunate man who wished to immortalize his image for posterity could describe the impression from the first photos. And this is not that light flash from diodes on modern technology, but a harsh magnesium flash, from which the bunnies ran in front of my eyes for several hours.

The engine of progress has become the theater – the usual one and the one on which the hostilities unfold. The monarchs were not averse to taking a daguerreotype with ballerinas’ legs into their bedroom. Military generals were not opposed to receiving intelligence information in the form of printed cards.

First Selfie

First Selfie
First Selfie

Robert Cornelius took the oldest selfie in history. A photograph of a loved one was taken in 1839. Unlike modern Instagram models, the poor man had to stand motionless for 15 minutes in the backyard of his parent’s store.

19th Century Photoshop

19th Century Photoshop

The first image with processing appeared in 1861. During the election campaign, Lincoln’s headquarters lacked “heroic photographs,” and the president himself, according to personal photographer Brady, looked so-so.

“Photoshop” took Lincoln’s head from one plate, the surroundings of the estate of the then-deceased President Thomas Hicks, and the robust body of John C. Calhoun. The forgery was discovered only in 1969.

The Emergence of Brands

The Emergence of Brands
  • 1846 – Zeiss (Germany)
  • 1913 – Leica (Germany)
  • 1917 – Nikon (Japan)
  • 1919 – Pentax (Japan)
  • 1919 – Olympus (Japan)
  • 1920 – Minolta, Konika – acquired by Sony (Japan)
  • 1934 – Fujifilm (Japan)
  • 1935 – Canon (Japan)

The most expensive camera belongs to the Danish company Phase One; the equipment price is $50,000. This digital camera with a resolution of 150 megapixels is rented. The company was not included in the list of brands since it does not produce serial equipment models.

The history of photographic technology is immense; for 150 years, humankind has tirelessly improved the technical process of preserving light prints. The cameras themselves have not changed much. Today, we can get high-quality images by installing a memory card on any digital camera. Hope you got all answers related to the evolution of photography and its timeline. Please share it with your friends.

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