About Photography

Photography literally means drawing pictures with light. Light from the subject of your photograph impinges on a light sensitive medium (the film). This leaves a “mark” of that subject on that medium. This mark – processed, unprocessed, or put on a computer hard disk – is what we call a photographic image.


Where does the camera come in? What is its function? Direct light has a number of characteristics that renders it useless as a medium for recording images on film if it is used without the help of a camera. Light scatters, and it is usually either too bright or too dim. When light scatters, the image we get on a film is fuzzy, unfocused. When light is too bright or too dim, we get pictures that are over- or underexposed.

Theoretically, direct light falling on film would still create an image; but it would be useless for photography. Light must be made to pass through a camera and then let fall on film to make a good image. The camera and its lenses help focus the light, its shutters and f-stops (the size of the camera iris) control the exposure (brightness of the incoming light) and its closed and compact body lets the film record only what it is intended to. These are some of the reasons why the camera is the most important part of photography.


The word photography was coined in English literature by Sir John Herschel at the Royal Society of London in 1839. However, the word was previously used by a German astronomer, Johann von Maedler a few months before Herschel coined the word. Photography is a Greek word, with “photo” translating into light and “graphy” translating into drawing. Photography was possible because of a combination of multiple technical discoveries in the area of physics and chemistry. Pinhole photography was previously mentioned in 5th and 4th century B.C. by Greek mathematicians and Chinese philosophers, however, they did not create a working model. The combined discoveries of silver nitrate by Albertus Magnus, the pinhole camera by Ibn al-Haytham, silver chloride by George Fabricius, diaphragm by Daniele Barbaro (She was the first to describe it) and the photochemical effect by Wilhelm Homberg led to the development of the first camera. In the 1820s, chemical photography made huge advancements and in 1839, Louis Daguerre unveiled the first film based camera to the world. Since then there have been numerous advancements in this field.

Photography as a hobby: Photography lies on that thin line that distinguishes a hobby from a profession. People began doing photography as a hobby almost as soon as the technology began to develop. Then the Civil War happened in America, and photography as a profession – or photojournalism – really took off. We have fabulous records of the Civil war from the likes of Brady and Sullivan, photographers who were in the vanguard of professional photography.


NOTE: Information on this site is not guaranteed to be accurate. Some content is compiled from 3rd party sources. If you are aware of incorrect or outdated information, feel free to contact us.

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