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Who Invented Photography

Updated on February 6, 2015

Who Invented Photography:

Have you ever wondered Who Invented Photography? Read all about the Invention of Photography, the Camera Obscura and the first photographic cameras. Learn how to make your own pinhole camera.

Taking photographs has become part of our everyday life, we carry our cameras wherever we go, and now we can even take photographs with our phone and all the new mobile devices.

On this page I will tell you a brief story about the men who made this possible, and to whom, we should be thankful for being able to live in a world of images.

Photo: Kodak Brownie Cameras by Malu Couttolenc

On this page you will find works created by different photographers and artists, including myself. All images are copyrighted to their own authors. They may not be totally or partialy used, without prior authorization.

Origins of Photography

The Invention of the Camera Obscura or Pinhole Camera

The origins of photography go back to the invention of the "Camera Obscura". This method was first used and described by Mo-Chi in China, Aristotle in the Ancient Greece, Leonardo Da Vinci, in 1550, and Daniele Barbaro in 1568.

Photographer Frances Johnston Dressed as Man 1895 by lc_vintagephotos

What is a Pinhole Camera or Camera Obscura?

The first steps to photography

The camera obscura, or pinhole camera, as it is best known, is a box or a room, with a hole on one of its walls that allows the inverted projection, on the opposite wall, of subjects or scenes located in the outside.

What artists did with these reflected images, was to trace them and then create a painting. Using biconvex lenses and smaller holes, they discovered a way to make clearer, sharper and brighter images.

Creating a Pinhole Camera

A home made experiment

As an enthusiast photographer, I wanted to try this method myself, and created a homemade "Pinhole Camera". These are some images I took during my experiment:

First, I took a box from a gift and painted it with black on the inside. Using a cutter, made a hole on one of its walls and inserted a lens from one of my cameras. Usually you would use a piece of paper to act as shutter but for photographic purposes, I used my lens instead, since I couldn’t get a biconvex lens.

Using a desktop lamp, I lit the book that I used as my subject. The inverted image of the book was projected on a white piece of paper glued to the opposite wall.

Pinhole Camera created by Malu Couttolenc
Pinhole Camera created by Malu Couttolenc

The image above, and the inserted image, shows how the book is lighted with the desktop lamp. The light reflects and passes through the lens producing an inverted projection on the white piece of paper I pasted on the back wall of the box.

Of course the image doesn't look very clear because of the light coming in from the side that I left opened so I could take these photographs, but it gives you an idea of what happens inside a camera.

The following image is a closer look at my homemade Pinhole Camera and the book image on the back. You can almost appreciate all the details on the book cover.

Pinhole camera created by Malu Couttolenc
Pinhole camera created by Malu Couttolenc

Learn how to make a Pinhole Camera on Video - A wonderful photo project for the whole family

From this video you will learn how to create your own Pinhole Camera, also called Camera Obscura. Make it a project to show your children how photography started. This could be a fun activity the whole family will enjoy when you take your own photographs.

History of Photography

As we know it today

The first photograph, as we know it today, was made in 1827 by the French inventor, Joseph Nicephore Niepce. His first experiments were made using the "Camera Obscura" method.

What Niepce really invented, was the way to print the reflected images permanently. Niepce partnered with Louis Daguerre who later, after Niepce's death in 1833, made some improvements to the process and called it daguerreotype. This invention was spread worldwide by the French government, who bought the patent.

Poster/Print: Toulouse-Lautrec - P.Sescau by VintageCabaret

Brownie Model I. Photo Malu Couttolenc
Brownie Model I. Photo Malu Couttolenc

The first Kodak Camera: Brownie

by George Eastman

As years went by, photography became popular and everybody wanted their portrait taken and with the invention of the first cameras, a few artists started to get their own.

It was around this time when George Eastman created a paper with a dry gel that substituted the plaques previously used by Niepce and Daguerre. In 1901 Eastman launched his first Kodak camera with the name of Brownie.

The Kodak Brownie cameras kept developing and many different models came out.

Photo: Brownie Model I

Darkroom Trunk by bhbphotos

Kodak Brownie Camera Collection

Agfa, a German Photo Brand

The image below shows some of these old cameras, that I found at a flea market. I was lucky enough to be allowed, by the owner, to set them all together and take a photo for my collection.

Photographs by Malu Couttolenc
Photographs by Malu Couttolenc


1. Brownie Reflex, 2. Agfa Synchro Box, 3. Six-20 Brownie, 4. Six-20 Brownie Junior, 5. Brownie Targe Six-20, 6. Brownie Hawkeye, 7. Brownie Flash IV, 8. Brownie Model I



1. Brownie Chiquita and 2. I couldn't read the name of this cute camera because it was blurred out. If anyone knows the name, I would love to find out what it is.

The second camera on the back row is an Agfa, A German brand that came out in 1926.

The New Nikon D800 - Amazing picture and video quality!

- Extreme resolution 36.3-megapixel FX-format (35.9 x 24.0mm) CMOS sensor

- Full 1080p HD broadcast quality video and minimized rolling shutter

- View simultaneous Live View output on external monitors and record uncompressed video via HDMI terminal

- Multi-Area Full HD D-Movie Video Recording Mode

- Comprehensive high fidelity audio recording and playback control

Please press "Click and say Cheese" to leave your comments - While I take your picture with this beautiful Brownie Hawkeye!

Brownie Haweye Photo Malu Couttolenc
Brownie Haweye Photo Malu Couttolenc

Today we can't imagine ourselves without a camera and it is easy for us to take photographs wherever we go. This was not so easy at the beginning, when the first cameras were created. Photographers needed a long time for exposure, making it hard on the models that had to stand still for from 10 to 20 seconds until the photographic exposure process was done.

What do you think about the history of photography? It is interesting, isn't it? Let us know if you are an avid photographer and what your favorite subjects are or maybe you just take photos for fun. Can you imagine how would the world would be if photography hadn't been invented?


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    • profile image

      anntag 5 years ago

      Chessy smile! I found it very informative.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 5 years ago from Virginia

      CHEESE! Not to tell my age, but I think I owned several of these cameras. Nice trip down memory lane and the information was off the chain. COUNTRYLUTHIER blessed.

    • profile image

      CuriousBoy 5 years ago

      Photography is my favorite hobby.

      While I have a few digital camera (even a high-end one) I kept almost all of those I had in the past.

      What I miss the most is the warm "touch-finish" of Kodachrome slides!

    • irminia profile image

      irminia 5 years ago

      I especially liked the pinhole camera instructions - I'll try to make one.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      I like the pinhole camera. What a cool project.

    • KatrinaJames profile image

      KatrinaJames 5 years ago

      what a fab lens- brill read!

    • Joy Neasley profile image

      Joy Neasley 5 years ago from Nashville, TN

      Very imformative. I did not realize the camera dated back as early as it did.

    • satto76 profile image

      satto76 6 years ago

      I simply love this lens. So much information on photography in one place. Very well researched lens.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It was nice to read through this lens and get to know some of the history about photography. I remember making a pin-hole camera as an experiment when I was in school. It's amazing how far photography has come and how technology have changed it drastically and made it so mainstream. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wonderful and interesting Lens! My first camera was a Kodak Brownie - WOW, that sure was a long time ago! I was SO excited when color photography arrived, and even more so when I had my first digital camera, and got free from that film which went through much too fast!

    • profile image

      Andy-Po 6 years ago

      Excellent lens and an interesting history lesson. I have lots of old cameras and I remember being shown how to make a pinhole camera as a small child. I have helped design some of the sensors (i.e. silicon chips) used in digital cameras over the last few years, but I would still prefer to use slide film in my enormous Nikon F4S professional camera or black and white film in one of my medium format cameras, but I can't afford to do it very often any more.

    • BusyMOM LM profile image

      BusyMOM LM 6 years ago

      with digital photography practically all anyone ever does anymore, it's nice to read about how it all got started. Nice lens!

    • profile image

      MintySea 6 years ago

      I love this lens I love learning about the past of photography.

      I mostly do digital now but a thought of a homemade camera sounds so cool.

    • profile image

      CatJGB 6 years ago

      Love pinhole cameras! Digital has lost some of the magic of the darkroom I feel, but so much more convenient!

      Thanks for stopping by my lens before, too, appreciate your comment.

    • timelapselove profile image

      timelapselove 6 years ago

      Cool lens! Thumbs up for pinhole cameras!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 6 years ago from La Verne, CA

      Vermeer used the pinhole obscura to paint his portraits. You have created a beautiful page about this wonderful subject.

    • deyanis profile image

      deyanis 7 years ago from Oz

      It's very interesting to learn the history of photography, I'm just into photography for fun. Great explanation about Pinhole Camera. --- Blessed ---

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 7 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Interesting story about the beginnings of photography! I've always wished I was a better photographer. :)

      I grew up in the Rochester, NY area and Kodak and George Eastman have had a big influence on the city. Besides being a major employer in the city for many years, we have the George Eastman house, which is a museum about photography and Eastman's developing processes, plus contains a movie theater showing old (vintage) movies.

    • sukkran trichy profile image

      sukkran trichy 7 years ago from Trichy/Tamil Nadu

      awesome lens. you have done a great job in this lens. thanks for the rare pics and info. ~blessed~

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 7 years ago from California

      Ahh, fascinating...I liked the camera you made, the pin-hole one, and the picture you took of the old Kodak's. I have a great collection of old cameras and had them on shelves in my office. I like the idea of lining them up and naming them :) Blessed....

    • Richard-H profile image

      Richard 7 years ago from Surrey, United Kingdom

      Fascinating to see your pinhole camera experiment. Lots of useful information here :)

    • Vikk Simmons profile image

      'Vikk Simmons 7 years ago from Houston

      Really enjoyed this page. Nice job. Lots of interesting information.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      Thanks for showing us how to make a pinhole camera -- it looks fun and is an educational project for kids too.