Historical Significance

For something to be historically significant, most people would agree that it would have to have been notable at the time, as well as have had lasting and widespread consequences. The invention of photography fits that criteria and therefore represents a trend in history. 

Prior to the early 1800s, cameras such as the camera obscura existed, however they weren’t yet capable of producing permanent images. Before that, everything was an individual’s interpretation of something, but then photography made it possible to show something exactly as it occurred. The invention of the first camera to produce permanent images was notable. In the 1820’s, a French inventor named Joseph Nicephore Niepce produced the first grainy permanent photo. He experimented with exposing light to a pewter plate coated with bitumen. He worked in partnership with Louis Daguerre. Once Niepce died, Daguerre started experimenting with exposing onto metal plates, the creation of Daguerreotype. As opposed to the original process it left a well-lit positive image after refining it a bit. It became the most commonly used process until the 1850’s. 

It spread very quickly and became the most used method of documenting life and capturing images  across the globe. The invention of this camera had widespread and lasting consequences, and in fact, continued to influence history as one of the key ways we record it. It’s historically significant because it’s the main way we record historical events. For example, Daguerreotype was the first ways people could physically have a photo of the monuments in Egypt. It also led directly to the technology that is used in all cameras today.

As Sean Ensch says, “photography has played such a vital role in human history. Before photography, information was relayed by written word, word of mouth, or by illustrations and paintings. The advent of photography heralded the first and only way to fully replicate something a person saw with no error, no exaggeration to the story and no tampering. It was one of the greatest breakthroughs in human technology.”

The Daguerreotype has been memorialized by being the method used to memorialize other things. It represents the beginning of the informational revolution, people’s access to information, which has resulted in the internet. The Daguerreotype filled our human need to record history and remember things in a less time-consuming way.  

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