Photography is one of the oldest forms of expression and art, dating back to the early 19th century. But the history behind this beloved craft is more than just pictures. Today, let’s take a look at some of the most fascinating and unusual facts from the history of photography.
From the very first photographic image to the most viewed picture in history, join us as we dive deep into the incredible facts of photography. Throughout its history, photography has captivated audiences and created some of the most iconic images ever captured. Get ready to explore FotoRus free and find out what this unique art form has to offer:
- The term “photography” itself comes from the Greek. It’s a surprisingly short word for something with such a remarkable history. Deriving from the Greek words, “photo” meaning “light”, and “graph” meaning “drawing”, photography literally means “to draw with light”. Sir John Hershel is credited as having established the term in 1839 and since then, photography has become an increasingly popular form of expression.
- Joseph Nicéphore Niépce conceived photography when he captured the first ever photograph in 1826. This remarkable image was taken using a camera obscura and required an exposure time of eight hours. The image was lost for nearly half a century before being rediscovered by historians.
- Photographs of corpses were incredibly common in the 1800s, used to capture the image of both famous and not-so-famous individuals. Notable cases include the Clantons and McLaurys of the O.K. Corral shootout, who were famously photographed after their deaths. This was a grim reminder of mortality and served as an important memento mori for many families.
- In 1888, George Eastman founded Kodak and set the stage for photography to become a mainstream form of expression. Its name held no meaning, as Eastman himself claimed that “the letter K seemed a strong, incisive sort of letter”. Eastman’s company went on to pioneer the use of film and digital cameras.
- The Leica 0-Series camera, a 1923 prototype for the ground-breaking Leica A, holds the distinction of being the priciest camera to ever be sold at an auction in Vienna. This model marked a major milestone in photography, representing the first foray into a new era of picture-taking.
- In the pre-digital age of photography, taking pictures came with significant risks due to the hazardous chemicals used in developing photographs. These included mercury, silver nitrate and lye, all of which could be incredibly dangerous if inhaled or consumed. Longer exposure times to these chemicals and metals could lead to mental illness, or even death – a stark reminder that photography was far from an easy job!
- The risks of photography weren’t just limited to ingesting harmful chemicals either; the use of flash powder was also a potentially hazardous practice. This powder was made from a combination of Potassium chloride and aluminum, and when mixed incorrectly could lead to violent explosions that had dire consequences for photographers. It wasn’t uncommon for these explosions to occur due to miscalculation in the mixing process, so photographers had to be extra cautious when dealing with this powder.
- In 1975, Steve Sasson developed the first ever digital camera while working at Kodak, though this revolutionary invention had to be kept a secret.
- This early model was only 0.01 Megapixel and weighed an incredible 8 pounds, making it far from the sleek and convenient devices we use today. In addition, taking a photo took over 20 seconds – light years away from today’s instant results.
- Before the emergence of digital cameras, the US government took to the sky to covertly photograph the Soviet Union. 20 satellites were launched with each carrying around 60 miles of film and a camera, ready to capture images from above. When the film had been used, it would be jettisoned from the satellite, where it would then make its way back to Earth.
- In 1984, the world was given one of the most well-known images of the 20th century – the ‘Afghan Girl’. Captured by National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry and published in 1985, the girl in the image had no idea of its eventual notoriety until she was shown her own photo almost two decades later in 2002. This stunning photograph has since become a symbol of courage and resilience.
- The Knoll brothers developed a revolutionary piece of software in 1987 called ImagePro, which was later purchased by Adobe and adapted into the industry-standard Photoshop. Released on February 19th, 1990, Version 1 of Photoshop was a Macintosh exclusive and has since become an incredibly powerful tool used by countless designers and photographers around the world.
- The most widely seen image in the history of photography is the Windows XP default wallpaper. While no one may remember its name, just about everyone is familiar with this iconic image, a testament to its lasting power.
- As a final point, photography enthusiasts often use the phrase ‘f-stop’ to refer to the amount of light that passes through a camera’s lens. In bright conditions, this equivalent to the human eye would be f/8.3, whereas in low light it would be as low as f/2. This simple term has become a staple of conversation amongst photographers and is invaluable when dealing with changing light conditions.
We hope you’ve found these 14 photography facts both interesting and informative. If you have any photography-enthusiast friends, why not pass your newfound knowledge onto them? This article is sure to pique the interest of any budding photographer!