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  • Sean R. Marshall

The First Photographic Camera

The first "pinhole camera" was invented in 1500 AD by Alhazen. It was alternatively called "camera obscura", meaning "dark chamber". The image below depicts its operation.

Camera Obscura in operation

An example of its application was to pose a subject outside so that their image could be reflected onto paper for the purpose of tracing, enabling an artist to accurately paint.

It was only in 1839 that the Daguerreotype camera was invented by the Frenchman Louis Daguerre. A daguerreotype is an image on a silvered copper plate. Therefore, it weighs much more than photo paper. Somewhat comparable with framing a printed photograph, the metal plate used by the first photographic camera was fragile and would usually be presented in its own unique housing. Despite it being the first camera, the pictures impressed by the Daguerreotype were actually very detailed.

The Daguerreotype, the first photographic camera

As a result of this [then] new technology, photographic portrait studios opened for business from 1840 onwards. However, only people with a lot of money could afford to have their photos taken. Not like nowadays when you can have single portrait shots starting at £7.99 for ID pictures and £20 for professional portraits.

A Daguerreotype kit included a tripod, boxes for treatment with mercury vapour and fuming with iodine and bromine, a soft buckskin pad for polishing the plates, and a case of unexposed silvered copper plates.

These days things are far more simple. If you are looking for a quality, reliable photographer for your PR event, wedding, birthday, or anything else you can think of, get in touch today on 01268 691481 or at Based at 55a Furtherwick Road in Canvey Island, Essex, SS8 7AG, as part of Selectronic, Studio 55 Photography provides professional photographic services such as professional photography itself, canvas printing and mounting, custom mounting and framing, properly edited passport and identification photos, advanced photographic editing and restoration, video transfers, stationery printing and more, Essex-wide. Visit us in store, Monday to Saturday.

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