The Interesting, Varied and Fascinating History of Photography

So the Crimean War 1853 was the first war with some photographic documen-tation. Roger Fenton was on his way in a horse-drawn carriage with all the then needed equipment for Archer's wet-plate process, including a complete dark-room. Because of the technical limitations only still lifes after a battle were possible.

When after the Franco-German War 1870/71 the german empire was foun-ded the dry-plate was invented by Ri-chard Leach Maddox in 1871. It lasts until 1878 it could be produced indu-strially. In this time also the telephone and the phonograph were introduced to the public, followed by Edison's light-bulb in 1880.

Concurrently to the great public events around the Daguerreotype there was the success of an-other inventor of photography: William Henry Fox Talbot in Great Britain. His Photogenic Dra-wings, improved and than labelled as Kalotype, was the real pathbreaking one because it is a ne-gativ-positiv pro-cess and with a second step he also found the way of developing the latent ima-ge to a visible one. Just because the lightsensi-tive layer could first be fixed only on paper the results were not nearly as sharp and clear as the Daguerreotypes. But in 1851 Frederic Scott Ar-cher was successful in bringing out the layer on glass-plates. This was kind of a revolution and nearly at once all photographers changed to practice this for the next 25 years despite the disadvantage that is just in the name „Wet Plate Photography“: the photographic plates must be prepared directly before the exposition and be exposed and developed as long as they were not dried. That means for outside pictures that the photographer had to carry a whole darkroom, at least on form of a small tent, including the whole chemistry.

While Daimler and Benz produced their first cars there came the first roll-film-cameras made especially for ama-teurs by George Eastman as “The Ko-dak“ in 1888. The slogan was: “You press the button, we do the rest“. This was the beginning of photography for everybody – as far as one could effort it.

1893, one year before the Japanese-Chinese War and contemporary with the invention of the Diesel-engine the first submarine-photographs were made.

During World War I amateur-cameras had become so small and cheap that the soldiers on every side could take them even to the very front line. But they didn't take pictures of the cruelty of war, nobody wanted to bring addi-tional sorrow to the family.

In the years between the world wars Kodak and Agfa presented the first co-lour-films and in 1925 Leitz has pre-sented the famous Leica (Leitz Camera) what was the start of the triumph of this camera-format. Short before radio-broadcasting had started and the world economic crisis took place with hyper-inflation and deep distress in many countries. Even big companies had to merge to stand the situation, the best known incorporations probably are Zeiss-Ikon and APeM.

At the beginning of the thirties amateur-photo-graphie prospered. Plate-cameras, rollfilm-ca-meras and the new 35mm-format were in lively competition. But all this ended soon with the in-sane turmoil of war that the evil nazi-dregs brought up. Nearly every country in reach suffe-red from this and shortages of material disrup-ted most of civil production.

After the end of World War II the whole photo-industry had to position itself anew. The time of plate cameras was over and a lot of little new companies aroused, founded by returning sol-diers. Some of them had developed pioneering ideas during wartime or war captivity, but only very few of them could hold steady next to the big enterprises. Many of them were carried over by the big players who wanted to get their patents.

With the economic recovery during the fifties and sixties came a great spreading of photography at all. More and more cameras were sold, increasing quality for the real hobbists and advanced automa-tic functions for the vast amount of snapshooters. Reflex- and system-ca-meras reached sales peaks while the Ja-panese camera industry arose and rea-ched sales figures that nobody expected before.

So an explicit change started because the japanese manufacturers set new stan-dards using electronic controls and brought automatic functions into the camera bodies. In a few years they ga-thered an advance that could not be overtaken by the traditional camera-factories. Concurrent to this Kodak brought the revolutionary Instamatic-System (film-type 126) to the market which was great for the snapshooters and gained a big share in the market. Both developments called time especial-ly on the german camera-manufactu-rers. Most of them disappeared in the following years.

In the seventies occured the first digital cameras, labeled as still video. This technique had great success even before the end of the 20th century. In the beginning it was very much appreciated by the merchants because of the saturation of consumer demand on cameras. Meanwhile this turned out to be a sheer disaster – even big manufacturers vanished, in Japan, too. The wholesale as well as the retail segment went down because of the change from analog to digital photography and so did the professionell photowork, quickend by the liberation of the admission to this branche for nearly everybody with or without qualification. The vast amount of snapshooters seemingly accept the problem of insecure storage and lost pictures.

Beside of this there is still the good working analog section, operated by a considerable and somewhat growing group of enthusiasts, both in the amateur- and the professionell section. They enjoy the universal range of photographic options, the amount of well-engineered cameras on the market together with best films and without any sorrow about the storage.

Some aspects of this varied and interesting history are already present on this website and this will be augmented from time to time.

Meanwhile about 180 years passed sin-ce Arago published the invention of photography made by Daguerre and the world's first commercially produ-ced camera by Alphonse Giroux was sold. Short before in 1830 the first in-tercity-railway line between Liverpool and Manchester was built by George Stephenson, the wage of on of the bet-ter payed cigar-workers was 2 Thaler, one Daguerreotype costs 3 Thaler (one Louisdor meant 5 Thaler or about 2 Ducats).

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