Let me guess,
you’ve got Facebook albums full of photos.
You have photos on your computer desktop,
on your mobile phone,
on your bedroom wall.
You see photos in magazines and newspapers,
on the side of buses,
and of course, in your family albums.
We take photos for granted in a major way.
But, creating a picture
that looked exactly like the person or thing
that you were photographing wasn’t always obvious.
In fact, in the past, it was a big mystery.
How could you, in essence,
take your reflection in the mirror
and freeze it in there?
In the 9th century,
the Arab scientist Alhazen
had come up with the idea
of using the camera obscura,
which was literally a dark room, or box,
with a single, small hole in one side that let light through.
This would project the image outside into the wall inside.
During the Renaissance,
artists like Leonardo DaVinci used this method
to introduce 3-D scenes onto a flat plane
so that they could copy things,
like perspective, more easily.
在1724年，Johann Heinrich Schultz 发现
In 1724, Johann Heinrich Schultz discovered
that exposing certain silver compounds to light
altered their appearance
and left marks wherever the light touched.
Essentially, Schultz found a way to record the images
that Alhazen was able to project,
but only for a little while.
Schultz’s images disappeared soon after he had made them.
It wasn’t until 1839 that people figured out
how to project images onto light-sensitive surfaces
that would retain the image after exposure,
and thus, photography was born.
At that point, it was mostly two inventors
who fought for the best way to make photos.
一个是英国科学家 Henry Fox Talbot
One was British scientist Henry Fox Talbot,
whose calotype process used paper
and allowed many copies to be made
from a single negative.
另一个发明家 Louis Daguerre
The other inventor, Louis Daguerre,
was an artist and chemist in France.
He developed something called a daguerreotype,
which used a silvered plate
and which produced a sharper image.
But the daguerreotype could only make positive images
so copies had to be made by taking another photo.
In the end, the daguerreotype won out
as the first commercially successful photographic process
mostly because the government made it freely available to the public.
So now that photography was available,
getting a picture of yourself would be a snap, right?
Well, not exactly!
This process still required a whole dark room
at the location of the photograph,
which was a big hassle.
Picture the early photographers lugging
enormous trailers with all their equipment
wherever they wanted to take a picture.
Not only that, but the early processes
had extremely long exposure times.
To get a good photo, you would have to stand perfectly still
for up to two minutes!
This led to development of inventions like
the head holder,
a wire frame that would hide behind you
while supporting your head.
It’s also why you don’t see people smiling
in early photographs.
It’s not that life was that bad,
it was just hard to keep a steady grin
for more than a few seconds,
so people opted for a straight-faced look.
And then George Eastman came along.
Eastman believed that everyone
should have access to photography,
and he spent many late nights
mixing chemicals in his mother’s kitchen
to try to achieve a dry plate photographic process.
This would allow exposed negatives
to be stored and developed later
at a more convenient place
instead of carting those dark rooms,
necessary for wet plates, around.
After starting a business,
which initially made dry plates,
Eastman eventually discovered plastic roll film
that would fit in hand-held, inexpensive cameras.
These cameras sold by the millions under the tag line,
“You push the button,
we do the rest.”
While Eastman was largely responsible
for making photography a universal past time,
even he could not have dreamed of the ways
photography had since shaped the world.
It’s now estimated that over 380 billion photographs
are taken each year.
That’s more photographs each day
than were taken in the first hundred years
after photography was invented.