photography pioneers

If you want to read more on this topic here is an excellent post at LightStalking.

This is personal note for my further investigation. It was taken from this site, all credit to them.

ANGELO SALA (1576 - 1637)

Self-educated chemist that experimented with silver salts.
In 1614 published that the paper containing silver nitrate reacted
 with sunlight causing it to darken. Same observations were made by 
Robert Boyle, who unfortunately gave the wrong explanation by stating
 that the above reaction occurred due to air and not by sunlight. 


German professor at the University of Altdorf. With experiments, proved that silver nitrate becomes dark due to sunlight and not by temperature. He is the first that created photograms with paper masks, which unfortunately could not last due to lack of paper fixer. His observations that opened the path, for the creation of photography became know after his death.

CARL WILLIAM SCHEELE (1742-1786)Swedish scientist, self-educated. He used to work as an assistant in pharmacies and showed a talent in chemistry from a very young age. In spite an offer made to him to study in London or Berlin, he operated a pharmacy in Kφping where he spend the rest of his life and made all his important inventions. He was especially interest on chemical analysis and worked particularly with the chemical reactions between silver nitrate and sunlight, therefore making a break through in the chemistry of photography. The records from his experiments were of a great importance for the next generations of scientists.




French multi-talented inventor. In 1826, (after trying since 1814), invented the “heliogram” and became the first man ever to fix a print. The “heliogram” as a method was extremely time consuming, since it required long time exposures (his first photograph needed eight hours of exposure time). In 1829 he sighed a contractual agreement with Daquerre in spite of the fact that the latter developed a photographic method of his own after Niepce died in 1833.



Son of a well know pottery maker called Josef Wedwood. In spite of his health problems and the interruption of his studies, continues to experiment with silver nitrate, in order to record photogramms and images from camera opscura. He finally made it with the help of his friend Davy, one of the most important chemists of all times. Unfortunately he had no way to fix the prints, so he was destined to view them under very dimmed light in order to prevent them from darkening.


SIR HUMPHRY DAVY (1778-1829)

Chemistry genius, friend and assistant of Wedgwood in his experiments whose results were published at Royal Society, in 1802 by Davy. The problem of “fixing” the images remained in spite of Davy’s breakthroughs in chemistry.


Began his carrier as an architect, then moved on to painting and became a successful commercial artist by inventing diorama. He used camera obscura as a helping tool for his painting and became persistent on finding a chemical, easy – way to record images. In 1826 became aware about Niepce’s experiments and signed a contractual agreement with him. After Niepce died, he continued alone and created a method of his own called Daguerreotype. This method, was announced in August 1839 by Arago at the French Academy of Sciences. The French government adopted Daguerreotype and “donated” the method to the whole world and Daguerre became famous and rich.



He alone could have offered all that was needed for the invention of photography but this multi talented scientist needed it much less than all the others.He had many talents including drawing very well.In 1819 he had already discovered the ability that “hypo” had to fix the photographic images and he is the one who solved the “fixing” problem of pictures that his friend Talbot had.He was the one who first used the terms “photograhy” “negative” positive” and “snapshot”.He was the first to photograph glass negatives and in the end he discovered a different photographic method called cyanotype.His contact with other important scientists of his time in Europe and his new ideas in many scientific fields made him without a doubt the leading figure in the English scientific community.


Professor of literature, egyptologist, mathematician, classicist, physicist, transcriber of chaldean cueiform texts, who with his inventions on photography created the foundations for the development of this art and science for the next one hundred and fifty years. After a trip to Italy, where he used camera lucida for complicated designs, decided to discover a more practical and easy way to record images. He succeeded quite early, in 1835 by creating the first negative. His greatest discovery the negative process, minimizes exposure time considerably compared to passed methods. With the help and guidance of his friend Herschel achieves extraordinary results, which announces on January 1839 at the Royal Society and since then English and French argue on who first announced the discovery of photography.


Few details are known for his life. In 1824 goes to Brazil and takes part in a scientific mission at the Amazon, where he becomes preoccupied with the idea of recording images from his trip. From 1830 devotes himself to research and experimentation for photography. The above, gives Brazil the ability to claim that is one of the places in the world, where photography was found.


HIPPOLYTE BAYARD (1807 – 1887)

The most unfortunate from the pioneers of photography. Discovered one direct positive photographic method. He was the first person to hold a photographic exhibition (for humanitarian reasons) and the first who combined two negatives to created one print (called Combination Printing). As a civil servant and with five hundred franks that received as financial help from Arago for improving his method, prevented him from presenting the discovery of photography at the French Academy of Sciences.

ANNA ATKINS (1799- 1871)

We can consider her the first woman photographer. She studied botanology in a period when access to science and studies for women was almost impossible.In 1841 she came into contact with Talbot who was a friend of her father’s.Immediately she became aware of the possibilities that photography could offer to scientific research.She worked with the procedure of cyanotype a technique which was just discovered by Herschel and seemed much easier to her.Because of the stability of cyanotype many of her pictures still exist to this very day.In October 1843 she published the first book containing photographs which was named “British Algae -Cyanotype impressions”which was completed in a period of 10 years and came before Talbot’s publication”The pencil of nature”



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *