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first survivng photograph 1826

Two walls tower over an alleyway, and a mysterious rooftop building sits in-between them. What lies below this window-view is unknown and as the lower part of the scene gradually blends into darkness, the enigmatic tone is increased. The world’s first photograph is a blurry, confusing image.

Taken in 1826, the surviving print of Nicéphore Niépce’s View From The Window at Le Gras is officially the world’s oldest surviving photograph. This got me thinking about just how far photography has come and how much of an important aspect of our everyday lives it is. We’ve gone on from using a single-shot camera to being able to shoot multiple photos on one film roll, from analogue to digital and from cameras to smartphones. The ironic thing is that View From The Window at Le Gras would fit right in on your Instagram home feed, with its grainy look and blurred-out style!

This week, at TonerGiant, we’re going to highlight the top photography breakthroughs and innovations, and what made them change the face of photography…

Nicéphore Niépce

If it wasn’t for Niépce’s creative mind as an inventor, and his ability to think outside the box, we might have never gotten to use the camera. Period. So the first on the list is pretty self-explanatory, since 1826, the world has never been the same, although cameras were an expensive, clumsy and inaccessible device in their first hundred years , the slow start still paved the way for the colourful future. As soon as cameras became smaller, cheaper and easier to use, there was no stopping the once ‘crazy’ idea of a ‘picture box’.

Nicéphore Niépce

The Digital Revolution

You may have heard of The Industrial Revolution, and yes, it was pretty impressive, but what about the digital revolution?  In the last ten to fifteen years, we have almost entirely moved away from film as a way of saving snaps. What was once commonplace and the industry standard, now only exists on the ‘art’ scene and the fringes of society. The changeover to digital has completely reinvented photograph and changed the medium forever.

Firstly, we have the ability to delete an image we don’t like, oh, and if I hadn’t made myself clear, this means that we can ‘view’ the photo we just took instantly! We don’t usually think of this as anything but the norm, but for those of us who were around and using cameras long before the eradication of film, this was a concept unheard of. Suddenly, we could view our photos, delete our photos, and we didn’t have to wait for them to be developed or pay a penny to have them developed! This was a photographer’s dream come true.

The ability to connect our digital cameras to our computers and edit them in design suites such as Photoshop and Illustrator, means that we can all become graphic designers with a little bit of patience. We have new phrases in the photography world such as ‘Photoshopping’ – to edit or enhance a photo, and ‘Chimping’ – to obsessively check photos after every shot. Digital cameras were also expensive and bulky at first, but over the last fifteen years a revolution on a gigantic scale has swept across the globe and you can buy a compact camera for very cheap!

 A Canon 20d camera

The ‘Instagram’ revolution

As if the digital revolution wasn’t enough, in very recent years we’ve taken the ‘cheap digital camera’ to the extreme; we put one in a smart phone.

Camera phones again took off slow – see a pattern here ­– but soon become everyone’s primary picture-taking device. And it’s not so much the fact that we now only carry one device in our pockets; it’s what we can do with it.

We snap a photo, we share it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other of the social networks we desire, for millions of people to instantly see. We can also wirelessly send them to our printers and can have them in our hands in seconds. Sharing digital photographs has become a part of our daily lives and now we have a worldwide network of people taking digital photographs, editing them, sharing them and printing them, and in the 90’s they thought photography was a dying art. How wrong they were!

 Image on smartphone and laptop

What do you think?

Photography is a huge part of printing and continues to stay closely connected to it, we’re fascinated by all things creative and the exciting, awe-inspiring world it can create around print. As always, we’d love to know what you think about this article, you can leave a comment below or speak to us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+

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