Brief history of the evolution of the photographic medium, from the ‘camera obscura’ to the modern DSLR digital cameras.
When was photography invented and how has it evolved since then? What kinds of devices have contributed to its rise? Where does the most popular camera, the SLR, come from? Most importantly, what can we achieve with less well-known camera types?
These are some of the questions I would like to focus on in a new series of articles on the evolution of the photographic medium from the Chinese discoveries on light, Giotto and medieval art, to the Renaissance, a period during which I believe photography was invented.
I will also analyze the first rudimentary cameras that have had a significant role in the ‘official’ rise of photography at the beginning of the XIX Century, namely wooden cameras and the later, mechanically more sophisticated cameras of the 1950s, such as Rollei TLRs and Leica rangefinders. Moreover, I will focus on more recent photography innovations by famous brand names like Hasselblad, and Nikon, up to the digital age with Kodak, Canon and Fuji.
My goal is to present an alternative take on the evolution of photography, different from the official History of Photography, as it is usually presented by scholars and photography books. Indeed, I am not convinced that such version is completely true; I do not believe that Niépce took his most famous photograph, ‘View from the Window at Le Gras’, in the way it is described. Therefore, in later articles I will prove that we should not believe in all the nonsense that can be found in history books. For those who are interested in a different version of the History of Photography, I suggest they read my next article in this category, entitled, ‘Leonardo da Vinci and the Invention of Photography, as I See it‘.
Furthermore, I will analyze all the technical innovations that have had a heavy impact on the evolution of photography, specifically the ‘camera obscura‘, whose size ranged from a whole room to small, portable wooden boxes. These devices are precursors of the cameras we use today.
Finally, I will trace the evolution of the photographic medium from a technical standpoint; I will also examine how cameras have shaped the aesthetics of photography, photographic trends and, above all, the way we perceive and represent the world.
In chronologic order, here is a complete list of the articles in the series ‘The Evolution of the Photographic Medium’:
1 – The Evolution of the Photographic Medium (this article)
3 – The first photograph of the History is impossible
4 – Leonardo da Vinci and the Invention of Photography, as I See it;
5 – The Use of the Camera Obscura for Drawing Purposes;
6 – The “Rediscovery” of Photochemistry in the XIX Century;
7 – View Cameras, Roll Film and Kodak;
8 – Stereo Photography: Leica and Rolleiflex;
9 – With the Nikon F Japanese Takeover the Market;
10 – Hasselblad and Carl Zeiss Go to the Moon;
11 – The Role of Kodak in the History of Digital Photography;
12 – Canon’s Megapixel Rush and Nikon Revolutionary Sensor;
13 – The Modern Mirrorless Cameras, or The Rediscovery and Evolution of the Rangefinder System.
New articles will be weekly available on the blog; please check again for updates.