The Art of Photography
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833) created the first photograph in 1822. He was a French inventor and research chemist. Whatever images Niépce created the first few years have been lost.
As a result, the oldest known photograph in the world dates from 1826 and is featured here. He then joined forces with a man who had invented a better camera, Daguerre.
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1789-1851) was a skilled painter in search of a new artistic medium. He and Niépce invented the "Daguerreotype," which created positive images that could not be reproduced.
Daguerre's first picture dates to 1837, but I prefer this shot from one year later.
William Henry Fox Talbot
William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) was the competition and he succeeded in the creation of photography using negatives, as we do today unless using a digital camera. Talbot was an Englishman well schooled at Cambridge in mathematics and optics. I present his photograph from 1844.
Félix Nadar (1820-1910) was an artist turned photographer from Paris. He was also a journalist, novelist and balloonist. Nadar was the first person to use artificial lighting and the first to take aerial photographs.
His greatest fame came from portrait photography, so we will look at his photograph from 1859 of the most famous actress of the 19th Century, Sarah Bernhardt. It is reminiscent of sculpture.
Henry Peach Robinson
Henry Peach Robinson (1830-1901) was the most famous photographer in the 19th Century. He was from England, and tried his hand at painting and bookselling before becoming a photographer. I feature here the 1858 photograph that made him a worldwide sensation at the time.
Mathew Brady (1823-1896) was an American who is considered the father of photojournalism. His work covering the American Civil War brought home the horrors of combat in a new, and to some, shocking way. Brady photographed 18 Presidents of The United States, including photos of President Lincoln used on the Five-Dollar Bill and Lincoln Penny.
This photograph is from 1865.
Timothy O'Sullivan (1841-1882) was an American who mastered landscape photography. He had previously worked for Mathew Brady and shot outstanding photographs of the civil war. O'Sullivan became the official photographer for the United States Geological Expedition and on that mission took this photograph in 1873.
Jacob Riis (1849-1914) was a police reporter in New York City, where he photographed crime scenes. It was his pictures of slums that were to be his more lasting legacy as they led to changes in housing codes and labor laws.
Riis was a pioneer of flash photography, made possible by the invention of gunpowder. He worked as a carpenter, miner, salesman, reporter and newspaper editor before becoming a photographer. This photograph dates to 1889.
Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) is considered the founder of "modern" photographic art in the United States and an important person in the history of American visual arts. Stieglitz studied mechanical engineering and chemistry prior to photography. He later became an important writer and publisher.
We will review what he considered his finest work, this photograph from 1907. In it we clearly sense the difference between classes on an ocean liner. Stieglitz established documentary photography as an art form.
Edward Steichen (1879-1973) was a protégé of Stieglitz. He was an established painter in America before becoming a famous photographer. His photographic portrait of Greta Garbo remains his most well known work, but I am more intrigued with this one from 1924. Later in life he won an Academy Award for documentary film.
Eugène Atget (1856-1927) was a humble French photographer. Picasso was one of his patrons. He is famous as the documentarian of the Paris of his day. Atget was an orphan who became a sailor and then an actor. He is known today as a master of urban historical photographic art.
Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004) is considered the father of "modern" photojournalism. He was from Paris and a photographer since childhood. Cartier-Bresson also painted.
He was to become a world traveler in the broadest sense, taking photographs around the globe of some of history's most important events and people. He would only use a Leica 35MM camera and refused to use flash. This picture was shot in 1932.