To start, I would like you all to take a minute and imagine living in the Renaissance period, back in the 14-1700’s. A world where there were no such things as computers, there was no Internet and the idea of a telephone hadn’t even begun to evolve. This was a world where if you asked someone if you could take a “selfie” with them so that you could upload it to “instagram” they would probably send you to a mental institution. The term Renaissance translates to ‘re-birth’ which is exactly what was happening at this time, it was the beginning of big inventions and new ideas. At this time the Camera Obscura was the only known way to capture a real image, and the lantern magica was the only way to send out images using a projecting technique. As we know, the invention of photography then furthered itself when Dr J.H Schulze experimented with silver and phosphorus, ultimately creating what we know today as the first ever-photographic negative. This creation was astonishing, however, what came with the creation of photography, ultimately caused the destruction of other traditional art forms, as well as a huge loss in historical sources. Not only were Schulz’s images inevitably ruined due to sunlight, the medium of Painting as well as objects of photography were also in the line of destruction.
Once Dr Schulze had figured a way to produce images using light and certain chemicals to stain the silver salts, we come to an understanding that the idea of photography was still impossible for the 18th century. Dr Schulze was not looking for a way to store the images, but rather was fascinated in creating some sort of secret code with the ‘magic’ letters. Therefore, as we look back through history, we have no actual images made by Dr Schultz. This was because when the rest of the image was revealed to the light, the entire image would blacken, as if it were destroying itself. Essentially they were making countless images seen as works of magic in this period, with no way of recording what they would look like in time to come. This theme of destruction was again highlighted through the work of Thomas Wedgewood, who discovered how to create silhouettes using Dr Shultze’s technique again the images would not survive. Both of these examples presented obvious problems with the loss of history and documentation and created further experiments on the issue of fixing an image. Joseph Niepce was the first to succeed in fixing an image. After exposing coated asphalt plates to a camera image, he used the vapours from heated iodine crystals to darken the silver and heighten contrast. However the process took close to 8 hours and looking at this photo, which is the first known photograph; images were being destroyed due to changing scenery. As we look at this photo here it is evident that the sun had enough time to move from the east to the west, creating a blurred photo that does not leave much for interpretation. Although we were presented with some historical recordings and great sources concerning the development of photography, we still had not perfected the art of capturing the perfect image. Daguerre then furthered the development of photography through another two major accidents. The first accident lead him to get rid of the asphalt plates and move onto a silver medium, as it was believed this created a stronger image and reducing the development time from 8 hours to just 30 mins. These images were also damaged overtime due to the silver plates being malleable and easily scratched. (As conveyed in this photo here) The second accident occurred with all the assumed useless experimental plates being stored in a cupboard where they remained. A chemical reaction ‘accidentally’ occurred and what were removed from the cupboard were perfect images ‘with the smallest details being depicted with perfect fidelity. So now both problems, relating to