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19th century photography improvments

Updated on November 8, 2011

19th century photography

Photos are a form of documentation, freezing little moments in time. Your collection of photos provides you with information about the past that is available from no other source. Each formal portrait captures a tiny bit of the subjects soul, just as the pre- civilized tribesman believed, a tiny slice of one’s life captured on film. As the 19th century progressed photography advanced further into the technological world. Many versions of the camera were made and claimed to be better than the last or the competitors’ camera, most were. Among the late 19th century photographers were Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, and Jacob Riis.

Edward Steichen was a photographer, artist, painter and museum curator among other things. Many of his photos featured glamorous people; he was one of the highest paid photographers during this time. He was also a photographer for the army during World War I and for the Navy during World War II. He was the first curator at the Museum of Art. One of his greatest accomplishments was a vast exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art consisting of over 500 photos that depicted life, love and death known as The Family of Men. Perhaps one of the first photographs produced with color was his The Pond-Moonlight. This photograph was not a true color photo, that was not accomplished till 1907 this photograph was taken in 1904. It is said that Steichen created the impression of color by manually applying layers of light-sensitive gums to the paper, thus being the first color photo to be produced.

Alfred Stieglitz was an American photographer and married to Georgia O’Keeffe the famous painter. He was a highly advanced child who found school very easy. In search of a challenge he joined a chemistry class that introduced him to photography. He quickly fell in love and found something to satisfy his hunger for a challenge. He was a photographer of landscapes, capturing Mother Nature and thus brings nature inside the home. He also wrote articles on the technical and aesthetic aspects of photography for magazines in England and Germany. In 1888 he submitted several photographs to the annual holiday competition held by the British magazine Amateur Photographer. His photograph The Last Joke, Bellagio won first place, this was his first photographic recognition. The next year he won both first and second prizes in the same competition, and his reputation began to spread as several photographic magazines in Germany began publishing his work.

Jacob Riis was a journalist and used photography as documentary for his stories. He was also an advocate for the poor and helped to get the reality of their lives out in the open. His biggest attribute to photography and its technological growth was the invention of flash photography. The need for a light source became apparent when he started working as a reporter for the police. The dark allies offer very little light and he was not very good a sketching the crime scene. He did not discover flash photography per say but he heard of someone using a torch as a light source and in Germany they were mixing chemicals to produce a flash of light with a system much like a gun. He adapted Germany’s way and began photographing the slums of the city and its darkest corners were not so dark.

All three of these men offered new things to photography and changed its course for the better. We as a whole have come a long way sense then and they had come along way sense photography began. Without the help of these men perhaps photography would not be as advanced as it is today.


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    • SimpleGiftsofLove profile image


      9 years ago from Colorado

      Great Hub, on a subject I love! Thanks for the piece of history, none of which I knew before. Rated up, interesting and useful and storing it in my memory bank.


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