From concept to click: When was photography invented?

In 2011, a fascinating online project was born out of one of the most character-revealing questions of all time:

If your house was burning, what would you take with you?

This question gave birth to a website and a documentary that explores, through the pictures submitted by different users, the conflict between what’s relevant, what’s valuable, and what’s sentimental for each one of us. From instruments, books, and technological devices to pieces of clothing, paintings, or memorabilia, each entry told a whole different story about its owner.

But, throughout hundreds and hundreds of posts, one element remained common in almost each one of them. Something that, most certainly, has also been lingering in your thoughts since you read and mentally answered the question raised just a couple of paragraphs ago.

Something relatively simple, not too big nor heavy, something carrying powerful emotions and memories.

That’s right. Photographs.

Authentic photos make us feel strong emotions

Nearly 200 years of capturing emotions

Since its beginnings in France in 1827, photography has become one of the most fascinating forms of media, giving birth to other praised formats such as cinema—what is a movie if not a sequence of images played fast enough?

Photographs hold the power to transport us back in time—even forth—they expand our imagination and take us on a trip to places we’ve never visited. They can make us feel nostalgic, intrigued, creative, romantic, and even repulsed. They teach us about the past and how the future might look.

The initial French spark

And it all began with the views over some rooftops. In 1827, french inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce achieved the first permanent photograph, marking the dawn of this revolutionary medium. The view: the rooftops across his window, exposed to the camera for at least 8 hours.

In collaboration with Niépce, Louis Daguerre refined the process and introduced the daguerreotype in 1839. This method involved exposing an image onto a silver-coated copper plate, making the first photograph with a person in it possible.

The daguerreotype soon became widely popular, with the support of the French government, and enabled people to have their portraits taken and preserve moments in a tangible form.

The amateurs step in

Outside of France, English inventor William H. Fox Talbot developed his way of taking pictures using the camera obscura. His method, the calotype, wasn’t as accurate as the daguerreotype but allowed image reproduction.

Once Daguerre patented his device, Talbot realized the potential of his invention and presented it to the public. With his book «The Pencil of Nature,» Talbot brought an interest in photography to upper-class groups, starting the artistic side of amateur photography.

Photography would remain exclusive to high-class hobbyists until 1888 when Kodak introduced the first consumer-friendly camera. Marketed with the slogan “Press the button, we do the rest,” their device simplified photo-taking— users only needed to press a button and would later receive their developed prints.

From heavy devices to summer selfies

The birth of authentic photography

Photography started to take off, entering an era of technological advances with the arrival of the 20th century. The invention of the 35mm film by Leica in 1925 made cameras even more accessible. In 1927, Steve Sasson, a Kodak engineer, created the first digital camera, igniting the spark that would ultimately lead to us being able to take a fresh summer selfie with our smartphones.

During these almost 200 years, we’ve taken all kinds of pictures, from stunning portraits to blurry moon images. But, if there’s something we’ve learned along the way, is that a good photograph does not have that much to do with technique but with emotion and storytelling.

And now we’ve gathered the most authentic, real-life, captivating images in the same place to help you transmit those emotions in your work.

Take a look and let yourself be fascinated by these powerful images.