Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre


On January 7, 1839, members of the French Académie des Sciences were shown products of an invention that would forever change the nature of visual representation: photography. The astonishingly precise pictures they saw were the work of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851), a Romantic painter and printmaker most famous until then as the proprietor of the Diorama, a popular Parisian spectacle featuring theatrical painting and lighting effects. Each daguerreotype (as Daguerre dubbed his invention) was a one-of-a-kind image on a highly polished, silver-plated sheet of copper.

He worked with Nicéphore Niépce, on how to make a permanent image using light and chemistry—and who had achieved primitive but real results as early as 1826. By the time Niépce died in 1833, the partners had yet to come up with a practical, reliable process.

Not until 1838 had Daguerre’s continued experiments progressed to the point where he felt comfortable showing examples of the new medium to selected artists and scientists in the hope of lining up investors.

Each daguerreotype is a remarkably detailed, one-of-a-kind photographic image on a highly polished, silver-plated sheet of copper, sensitized with iodine vapors, exposed in a large box camera, developed in mercury fumes, and stabilized (or fixed) with salt water or “hypo” (sodium thiosulphate).

From the moment of its birth, photography had a dual character—as a medium of artistic expression and as a powerful scientific tool—and Daguerre promoted his invention on both fronts. Several of his earliest plates were still-life compositions of plaster casts after antique sculpture—an ideal subject since the white casts reflected light well, were immobile during long exposures, and lent, by association, the aura of “art” to pictures made by mechanical means.

Neither Daguerre’s microscopic nor his telescopic daguerreotypes survive, for on March 8, 1839, the Diorama—and with it Daguerre’s laboratory—burned to the ground, destroying the inventor’s written records and the bulk of his early experimental works.

Fewer than twenty-five photographs by Daguerre survive…






The Tintype

A tintype, also known as a melainotype or ferrotype, is a photograph made by creating a direct positive on a thin sheet of metal coated with a dark lacquer or enamel and used as the support for the photographic emulsion. Tintypes enjoyed their widest use during the 1860s and 1870s, but lesser use of the medium persisted into the early 20th century and it has been revived as a novelty in the 21st.

The great thing about Tintypes is that they are SUPER HIGH RESOLUTION!




They were called TinTypes not because they were shot onto TIN, but it was a derogatory term for something cheap and with no value. The great thing about TinTypes is that it make photography available to EVERYONE. Before them you had to be rich in order to get a picture done. No people were getting pictures done who were just normal working folk.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.42.38 PMIt was something that you could do at a carnival or faire.

It is not an easy process to do. It is also considered a WET PROCESS. Your chemicals have to be wet when you take the image, or you can’t get a result.


Most of this has to be done in COMPLETE DARK. It’s a drag. And the exposures are REALLY LONG. And you will often need to use crap ton of light in order to make an exposure.


Drew-Afghanistan0001This is taken by my friend Ed Drew. This is the great grandson of Buffalo Bill.

TINTYPE COPYRIGHT OF VICTORIA WILLfrom the Oscars by Victoria Will

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.49.08 PMShot by Josh Brand. (Full light of summer sun, 4 second exposure)


Watch this 9 minute video, it’s worth seeing.

Photos for The People

When we talk about making photos available for the people, for everyone, you have to really consider Carte de visite.

This was a type of small photograph which was patented in Paris, France by photographer André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri in 1854, although first used by Louis Dodero. It was usually made of an albumen print, which was a thin paper photograph mounted on a thicker paper card. The size of a carte de visite is 54.0 mm (2.125 in) × 89 mm (3.5 in) mounted on a card sized 64 mm (2.5 in) × 100 mm (4 in).

These are the precursors to the idea of a “baseball” collectors card.

Each photograph was the size of a visiting card, and such photograph cards were traded among friends and visitors. Albums for the collection and display of cards became a common fixture in Victorian parlors. The immense popularity of these card photographs led to the publication and collection of photographs of prominent persons.

Queen Victoria

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.56.53 PMYou SHOULD know this guy. It was said that these images of him won him the election.

BtnPointerCat02AND CATS!

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.56.32 PMAnd famous actresses on set

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 5.58.02 PMAnd replication of classic art works (La Grande Odalisque)

William Henry Fox Talbot


He was also a frustrated artist, in the mid 1800s (1800–1877 to be exact). He was a  graduate of Trinity College, Cambridge, and when his photo discoveries started he had  recently been elected as a Liberal member of Parliament in the House of Commons. He like many of the other inventors of this  time was a true polymath. He did mathematics, chemistry, astronomy, and botany, philosophy, philology, Egyptology, AND art history.

His motivation was that his camera lucida never let him accurately capture the world. It wasn’t  his own feeble drawings, rather he recalled with pleasure “the inimitable beauty of the pictures of nature’s painting which the glass lens of the Camera throws upon the paper in its focus—fairy pictures, creations of a moment, and destined as rapidly to fade away.”  He wanted to know how to make these natural images imprint THEMSELVES onto paper. Forever. He wanted to know why it wasn’t possible.

In early 1834 he began to experiment with the idea that had occurred to him, he found that a sheet of fine writing paper, coated with salt and brushed with a solution of silver nitrate, darkened in the sun, and that a second coating of salt impeded further darkening or fading.

Talbot used this discovery to make precise tracings of botanical specimens: he set a pressed leaf or plant on a piece of sensitized paper, covered it with a sheet of glass, and set it in the sun. Wherever the light struck, the paper darkened, but wherever the plant blocked the light, it remained white. He called his new discovery “the art of photogenic drawing.” (think about the old cyanotype)

As his chemistry improved, Talbot returned to his original idea of photographic images made in a camera. During the “brilliant summer of 1835,” he took full advantage of the unusually abundant sunshine and placed pieces of sensitized photogenic drawing paper in miniature cameras.

Occupied with other activities, Talbot worked little on his invention between the sunny days of 1835 and January 1839, when the stunning news arrived that a Frenchman, Louis Daguerre, had invented a wholly different means of recording camera pictures with dazzling precision on metal plates.

On September 23, 1840, he found a way. He discovered that an exposure of mere seconds, leaving no visible trace on the chemically treated paper, nonetheless left a latent image that could be brought out with the application of an “exciting liquid” (essentially a solution of gallic acid). This discovery, was called the “calotype” process (from the Greek kalos, meaning beautiful), opened up a whole new world of possible subjects for photography.

Talbot’s early photogenic drawings are so ephemeral that, despite their exceptional beauty, they can never be exhibited or exposed to light without risk of change.

Remember he called the work “the pencil of nature”






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