The History of Photography in 5 Minutes

It seems like every few weeks, a new YouTube video or infographic comes out explaining the history of photography. But this latest one is pretty good—it’s a quick five-minute explainer that doesn’t skim over any key landmarks, dating back from the B.C. era, and offers interesting little-known factoids along the way. Check it out:

The video was created by COOPH and starts way back in the year 400 B.C., when philosophers such as Mozi and Aristotle began writing about the camera obscura phenomenon. It then skips ahead to the Elizabethan era, when some of the world’s most famous artists may have dipped their toes in the early technology as well.

It wasn’t until 1826 that the first photograph was taken in France, using heliography. The exposure took a few days to create—you can see it below, with the sunlight hitting various points of the frame.

joseph nicephore niepce

After that, technological advancements moved at a relatively rapid pace: the daguerrotype in 1833, the calotype in 1840, and a myriad more advancements with each passing decade; the first portable camera (a Kodak) in 1888, the first Leica lens in 1925, the first SLR in 1949. And, of course, digital cameras:

“The digital revolution begins in the ’90s. DSLRs, point-and-shoots. Photography had never been more accessible—well, until the first mobile phone with a camera came out in 2000. Game changer. Fifteen years later, smartphones now have insanely powerful cameras. In just seconds, we’re able to capture every moment and share it online. Photography has become a global passion, and has truly brought the world closer together.”

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