Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Photographic History

In the mid 1800’s photography was advance by several innovations. During this time there were three types of photographis methods that were being utilized, the Daguerreotype, Ambrotype and Tintype. The Daguerreotype was categorized as the first photographic process to be developed. In this process one of a kind images were made on silver plates coated with copper. Once the image was complete it was covered by glass. This type of photographic picture was the rage until the mid 1800’s.

After that time the Ambrotypes became more popular. In this method a glass negative is created. When the negative is placed against the background of the Ambrotype the image could be seen. Ambrotypes were cheaper to produce then the Daguerreotypes. The Ambrotypes were then replaced by the Tintype and other processes.

Looking at one’s image as an object to contemplate, or offering it for others to view, one might easily gain the illusion that the individual was indeed a coherent entity, for what one saw was taken not simply as a record of appearance but as a symbol of the inner self

What all these methods allowed over time was a cheap way to produce an image or portrait. Over 90% of the people posing for these photographs viewed them as a class signifier. If you were able to get your picture taken, it signified that you were in a higher class and that you enjoyed some social status. Daguerreotypes open up to the emerging middle class the ability to have a portrait taken which was once reserved only for elite aristocrats who could sit for a long time and pay for a painted portrait. The Daguerreotype allowed a middle class person to sit for 30 seconds, pay $1.50 and have an immediate portrait for them to show others. This gave that middle class person the illusion that he or she was part of the elite class, a class with cultural power, a class on the rise.


At 4:51 PM, Blogger A. Mattson said...

A good post. You discussed important technical formats and the role of photography in American social life. The photograph has its roots in the artistic tradition of portraiture. It could be a document of reality or an image of the class one aspired to join.


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