From Daguerreotype To DSLR; A Brief History Of Photography.

Posted on the November 10th, 2013 under Friends by Jamie Grant

Have you ever wondered why set shot poses for weddings seem so stiff?

Have you ever wondered why set shot poses for weddings seem so stiff?


Have you ever wondered why set shot poses for weddings seem so stiff? It is not a common question, but the cultural origins for the structured set shot originate with the developing technology of image capture.

The earliest method of capturing an image was with the use of a camera obscura, essentially a darkened space lit by a single aperture, an archaic word for hole or gap from the Latin apertura.  When the light thrown from this aperture was exposed against a flat surface at the correct distance there would be an inverted image of the landscape outside. Aristotle was the first western philosopher to notice the phenomenon of image projection with scattered light by observing the image of a partial eclipse in the dappled shade of a leafy tree. Yet it was in the philosophical writings of Mozi of China during the 5th century BCE were the first ever to describe the phenomenon.

It was not until the 10th century CE that Ibn al-Hyatham or more commonly known as Alhazan invented the pinhole camera. Alhazan is known as the father of optics, experimental physics and of scientific method and his contributions to science are as great as they are overlooked.


The Technology Of Image Capture.

The technology of image capture stayed relatively stagnant for the next 800 years or so, with artists and scientists refining ways of projecting or manipulating the images produced by a camera obscura, but none were able to capture the image and fix it to a medium for preservations sake until the late 18th century when Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce invented Heliography. Niépce was a gentleman scientist who experimented with chemistry and had invented the worlds’ first combustion engine, the Pyréolophore, with his brother Claude.


Niépce was fascinated by images produced by the camera obscura and he experimented widely with ways to retain an image by exposing a sheet of pewter soaked in a mix of prepared asphalt and lavender to light let through a camera obscura and focussed with the use of lenses. Unfortunately the exposure times were very long and the images could not be fixed for an extended period of time, fading within days. This frustrated Niépce who sought the assistance of fellow French man Louis Daguerre, They experimented with various light sensitive agents and methods of fixing the image. Unfortunately in 1833 Niépce died from a stroke and it was 3 years later that Daguerre solved their problem by altering the initial chemical compound to a copper sheet iodised with silver, then exposed to the light. Daguerre then applied a fixing agent of a salt solution producing a stable image and the foundations of modern photography were laid. Louis Daguerre named the process after himself and sold it to the French Government, ensuring that life long royalties were paid both to him and Niépce’s family.


The art of photography continued to develop more effective ways to focus and capture light images through lenses and onto photo sensitive paper but the essential technology was to remain unchanged until the summer of love, 1969.

It was Willard Boyle and George E. Smith working at Bell Labs in the USA that first created the CCD – Charge-Coupled Device, able to transform light in to a digital signal. This light sensitive electronic device was the forerunner to every digital sensor in DSLR’s today. So revolutionary was this development that the pair were awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in physics for the invention.

How The Modern CCD (charged coupled device) Works.



Wedding shots don’t have to be rigid!

Which brings us back to the original question, why is it set shots seems so rigid? Well, Daguerre managed to bring exposure times for images down to a mere 30 minutes or so, and to make portraits possible subjects had to be affixed with a restraining neck brace to hold them in a perfect pose for the imaging to be effective. A far cry for the freedom DSLR cameras give the wedding photographer of today.


Thankyou for joining me in this exploration of the history of Photography. For wedding photography in Brisbane using the latest methods visit Boutique Wedding Photography Brisbane or Click Here.


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