The First Permanent Images

Photography, as we know it today, began in the late 1830s in France. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce used a portable camera obscura to expose a pewter plate coated with bitumen to light. This is the first recorded image that did not fade quickly.

Niépce’s success led to a number of other experiments and photography progressed very rapidly. Daguerreotypes, emulsion plates, and wet plates were developed almost simultaneously in the mid- to late-1800s.

With each type of emulsion, photographers experimented with different chemicals and techniques. The following are the three that were instrumental in the development of modern photography.