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Photography is ...

  • ... an achievement of thousands of scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, craftsmen and photographers who developed and produced photo chemicals, cameras, camera accessories, sorts of optical glass, lenses, film foils, films and cartridges, camera electronics, image manipulation tools, etc.
  • ... what millions of camera owners did and do with their cameras.
  • ... what professional photographers, especially the masters of their trade conjure with film and camera.
  • ... an acknowledged form of producing pieces of art.
  • ... a science.


The term photography is combined of photo for light and graph for drawing. Maybe landscape painters of the 18th century already created it for their drawing with the camera obscura, but in photography literature the authors claim that it was created in the early days of photochemical photography around 1840 by one of the inventors, maybe William Henry Fox Talbot or Antoine Hércule Romuald Florence.

camera viewpoint

From the viewpoint of a more technical encyclopedia concerned with cameras the reader may distinguish several main branches of photography, everyone of them featuring its special camera types or accessories:

photography branch features
popular photography compact and easy-to-use cameras, nowadays many with zoom lenses
press photography shutter priority mode, fast tele lenses
landscape photography wide angle lenses, panorama cameras
aerial photography large lenses
architecture photography tilt- and shiftable view cameras
macro photography macro lenses and/or lens tube extensions
repro photography large cameras, extra sharp lenses
roentgen photography x-ray sources
infrared photography special films or sensors
medical photography adapters for endoscopes and microscopes
astronomical photography mirror lenses, telescope adapters, tracking facilities
microfilm archiving microfilm cameras
portrait photography fast portrait lenses


  • 1827 Nicéphore Niépce shoots the first landscape photograph through an opened first-floor window of his mansion in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France.
  • 1839 Hippolyte Bayard makes a photo exhibition of his works in Paris.
  • 1839 Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre officially awarded for the invention of (the technical process) photography.
  • 1839 William Henry Fox Talbot presents first negative/positive process for photos on paper and becomes one of the first photographers.
  • 1840 Charles Louis Chevalier invents the folding camera.
  • 1840 Jozef Maximilián Petzval presents the first mathematically calculated lens construction, the first fast portrait lens.
  • 1869 Louis Ducos du Hauron receives patents on principles of color photography.
  • 1896 Zar Camera Company presents the Pocket Zar camera - the kit with 12 film plates did cost just 1 US-Dollar.
  • 1913 New Ideas Mfg. Co. of New York presents the first still camera for 35mm film.
  • 1975 Steven J. Sasson develops the first "portable" (see image) digital still camera based on a new 0.01 megapixel CCD, for Kodak.
  • 2012 The resolution of 35mm film seems to be outdated since amateur cameras offer 16 to 36 megapixel sensors and many professional cameras already offer image resolution beyond 40 megapixels, but the decline of photo-chemical photography seems to be stopped on a low level since environmentally less toxic film chemicals are available and the lomography movement even revived pocket cassette film of the 1970s.
  • 2019 the 24×36mm image frame format of 35mm film finally survived as digital standard format since not just outdating DSLRs, but also the better of the newest mirrorless digital system cameras (CSCs) of almost all leading camera makers have this as sensor size.


Glossary Terms