Camera Obscura derives from latin and literally means “darkened chamber.” It was a device with mirrors that artists sometimes used when painting and is a precursor to photography.
Johann Heinrich Schulze is best known for the discovery that certain silver salts, most notably silver chloride and silver nitrate, darken in the presence of light, and for using those effects to capture temporary photographic images. In an experiment conducted in 1724 he determined that a mixture of silver and chalk reflects less light than untarnished silver. Though his discovery did not provide the means of preserving an image – the silver salts continued to darken unless protected from light – it did provide the foundation for further work in fixing images.
In the 1790s Thomas Wedgwood recorded “sun prints” on material soaked with silver nitrate such as leather, glass and ceramic by using light and heat to change the chemical substances. The resulting images were temporary and deteriorated rapidly, when they were displayed under light stronger than from candles. He was unable to produce permanent images due to his inability to fix the image.
Nicéphore Niépce made partially fixed images using silver salts in 1816 but in 1825 he succeeded in creating what is considered the first known photograph, also called a heliograph.
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre created the daguerreotype. The image in a Daguerreotype is formed with mercury and silver on a copper plate.
William Henry Fox Talbot was the inventor of the calotype process, and therefore also the first negative, which was made out of paper. This kind of process is what modern photographic processes derive from.
Hill and Adamson were a creative duo from Scotland. During their four-year partnership, the pair made more than three thousand photographs, including landscapes and architectural studies, but they are best known for their portrait work, particularly that of working men and women from the fishing village of Newhaven.
Julia Margaret Cameron was an amateur photographer known for her portraits of notable figures of her day. Her style was to create beauty even if it was blurry or dusty. However it was not widely appreciated by her contemporaries but has been a source of inspiration for many photographers of younger generations.
Felix Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon) was the first person to take aerial photographs and he also pioneered the use of artificial lighting in photography by working in the catacombs of Paris.
Scott Archer (wet collodion) invented the photographic collodion process which preceded the modern gelatin emulsion and made photography much more available for general use. Unfortunately, he did not patent his technique and died impoverished.
Dr. Richard Maddox (gelatin dry plates) developed the gelatin process, is an improved type of photographic plate.
George Eastman (Kodak roll film) invented dry, transparent, and flexible, photographic film (or rolled photography film) and the Kodak cameras that could use the new film.