1826: Invention of Photograph
Innovation: Invention of the photograph
By: Joseph Nicephore Niepce
Before the first official photograph was taken, France was already engulfed in an emerging art of lithography. Lithography involved drawing a picture with an oily substance onto a lithographic stone and then applying a film of water to the stone. The stone was then covered with a greasy ink that would be repelled by the water, but attracted to the oily sketch. When a sheet of paper was pressed on the stone, the ink would be transferred to the paper replicating the sketch. Joseph Nicephore Niepce was fascinated with the art but not very skilled at drawing and so began to experiment with his own ways of creating art. His experiments eventually led him to leaving a camera obscura containing a metal plate covered in bitumen on his summer home window in France, which allowed for a full day’s sunlight to react with the bitumen and capture the countryside view as the first photograph of human history. Photography has been such a crucial innovation in history because it allows people to share ideas, inventions, and architecture without actually having to physically travel to the site. Photographs have become mankind’s largest medium of information, influence, and inspiration.