World Photography Day: The evolution of the photograph

From the world’s first photograph to creatives today breaking new ground, let’s celebrate World Photography Day.

world photography day the evolution of the photograph 1024x838 - World Photography Day: The evolution of the photograph

World Photography Day is celebrated yearly to recognise the science, history, art and craft that goes into taking that one photo worth a thousand words. It’s a day set aside for raising awareness and sharing ideas.

World Photography Day: What you need to know

The world’s first colour photo

The first colour photograph – a photo of a tartan ribbon – was taken in 1861 by Scottish Physicist and poet, James Clerk Maxwell, who was also known for his ‘Maxwell’s Demon’ thought experiment.

According to National Geographic, Maxwell “created [the image] by photographing it three times through red, blue, and yellow filters, then recombining the images into one colour composite”.

His three-colour method mimicked the way a human eyes processes colour – Maxwell published a paper about his theories six years prior to taking the photo – and was the photograph not to fade immediately after being taken.

97d3a10e james clerk maxwell first colour photo - World Photography Day: The evolution of the photograph

Photography origins

The origins of World Photography Day can be traced back to 1837 when the Daguerreotype was invented and developed by Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicephore Niepce. However, the world’s first photograph much earlier.

In 1926 Niépce took a photo of his estate in Burgundy, France using a process known as heliography. At the time, it utilised Bitumen of Judea coated onto a piece of glass or metal.

Years later, the daguerreotype process, or daguerreotypy, became the “first commercially successful photographic process in the history of photography”. In 1837, the French government purchased the patent and gave it as a “gift” to the rest of the world.

Today, only the outline of his estate is still barely visible. The grayish-hued plate containing hardened bitumen looks like a blur.

First colour landscape photo

The first coloured landscape to showcase the world in colour was taken in 1877. Photographer, Louis Arthur Ducos du Hauron, was a pioneer in colour photography and was the mastermind behind the process that created this photo.

The shot depicts southern France and is appropriately titled “Landscape of Southern France”.

835589d7 oldest surviving photo 2 - World Photography Day: The evolution of the photograph

Mobile photography

Photography has come a long way since then and photography evolved from its original purpose of documentation into a language in its own right. Today, we have different methods to convey different emotions.

Photographers develop their own style. One of the biggest advancements on the photography landscape has to be mobile photography. We’re at a point now where we all carry cameras in our pockets, capable of taking breathtaking beautiful images.

In fact, Apple founded the iPhone Photography Awards™ (IPPAWARDS) in back in 2007 to celebrate the creativity of the iPhone users’ mobile photography. And with phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Huawei P40 Pro, nothing is impossible anymore.

Breaking ground in modern times

It would be impossible to cover all the photographic initiatives created the world over, but one that caught my attention was London-based illustrator Martina Martian’s Scenes From Isolation Project.

Martina custom-designed disposable cameras and shipped them off to people from all walks of life to join in a world-wide collaboration effort to showcase life in isolation from different parts of the world.

“I made cameras for a new collaborative project called #ScenesFromIsolation, inviting individuals from across the globe to document their own experience of self-isolation, using these limited edition cameras I designed.”

She explained that the cameras will “act as a little time capsule for this strange, historic time and ask us to reframe/rethink isolation as something worth documenting, rather than our lives being put on hold”.

Read more about Martina’s projects here: Beat the lockdown blues with ‘Home – The Virtual Art Show’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *