The first known image was generated by any chemical process devised by Niépce in 1826. The darkened chemical image permanent was not really noticed by the public until later years. The man was more interested in engravings and etchings for art purposes.
Initially, the idea was to cast an image on a metal plate and then etch it for printing. He used the camera obscura to make a permanent exposure of a courtyard. The whole process took about 8 hours. The name of the image was called a heliograph.
Today, this is recognised as the first-ever picture using light-sensitive materials. In later years the invention of photography became more popular in Europe. It is here where the photography industry started to boom in the mid-19th century.
The ability to use a combination of chemicals and scientific methods to produce a near-perfect image of a person or a scene started gaining more attention around the world towards the end of the 19th century.
The first people who contemplated the possibilities of photography were artists. The ultimate image would be one that could be saved or fixed on a piece of paper. Technology was still being developed to make the image stay.
The late 1870s saw the development of photography into a form that is more recognisable today. Scientists experimented with wet plate methods and discovered new ways to make the process more efficient by finding a way to make dry plates.
Finally, in 1871 gelatine was substituted for collodion in the chemical process, and the first dry glass plate was made. This was a great achievement for photography. The image was of such good quality that, for the first time in history, people could capture a decent photograph without requiring a tripod.
Dry plate technology was eventually superseded by celluloid films in the early 20th century, and in the late 20th century, digital photography became the prominent means of capturing images.
Photography has only been perfected, with high-resolution cameras now available in most new smartphones. Everyone has centuries’ worth of research and design in the palm of their hands today.