From the Industrial Revolution to World War I, C. 1850–1914

Early Photography

Who were some of the leading early photographers?

  • Nadar (1820–1910): “Nadar,” or Gaspard-Felix Tournachon, was an ambitious French photographer known for portraits and aerial photographs of Paris, and is credited with championing photography as a form of fine art.
  • Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879): Cameron didn’t start taking photographs until she was nearly fifty years old. Her portraits featured a soft, diffused light that captured the essence of her subjects. Her goal was to “ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and Ideal and sacrificing nothing of the Truth by all possible devotion to Poetry and beauty” (as quoted in “Julia Margaret Cameron [Getty Museum]”).
  • Oscar Rejlander (1813–1875): Rejlander was a Swedish artist who first used photography to aid in his painting. He innovated techniques in photomontage and combination printing, and was interested in both portraiture and allegorical scenes.
  • Mathew Brady (1823–1896): He was the leading American portrait photographer and journalist whose many famous images include portraits of President Abraham Lincoln and Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Brady organized a corps of photographers, including Timothy O’Sullivan, who documented the horrors of the Civil War.
  • Jacob A. Riis (1849–1914): Riis was a Danish American activist and photographer who documented the plight of the poor in New York City in photographs such as Home of the Italian Rag Picker, Jersey Street (c. 1888–1889). He is known as an innovator with his use of the magnesium flash.
  • Eadweard Muybridge (1830–1904): Muybridge was an English-born photographer who worked primarily in America and developed an advanced shutter mechanism for the camera that allowed for high-speed photography that could create moving pictures, likely inspiring Thomas Edison in his development of the cine camera. His Galloping Horse (1878) captured twelve shots of a running race horse that changed the way artists depicted such an action.


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