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CIST Student Sandbox

IST 605: History of Photography

technological innovations, global, and art histories of photography

        This LibGuide is meant to give undergraduate students a cursory glance at the history of photography. These sources are meant to go with and supplement the History of Photography courses. These sources may also be useful in deciding what aspect of photography to zoom in on for a concentration or just a final paper and really for anyone interested in learning more about the histories of photography. 

        Here we will provide overview sources for refreshing your memory on the history of processes and inventions. The global history page is meant to give a fuller more global view of the medium of photography, it is meant to broaden views and zoom in to other places in the world decentered or ignored in the history we are often taught when learning about photography.

        Early Photography gives some more information about the processes of early photography, such as Daguerreotypes, and Wet vs Dry Plates. In darkroom photography we will move on to the invention of the Gelatin Silver process and what that meant for photography and the darkroom process. There we will also look at the history of color photography and how that came to be and changed the game.

        Lastly in the Photography as art tab there will be a few sources to help when researching photography through an art lens. Movements in photography as art, and some sources about the history and key players in the shifting of how photography was viewed in the art world.

Some tips for when you are searching:

  • Use AND to make sure you are only getting results which contain both search words
  • Use OR if you only need one or the other of your search words to come up in that source
  • And use NOT to make sure you are not getting and results with the word preceding
  • For a phrase to be searched as one term add “quotations”

For example: if you want to search for a resource about Alfred Stieglitz and pictorialism you would type in “Alfred Stieglitz” AND pictorialism. Then if you want to exclude any mentions of Straight Photography you would then add NOT “straight photography”

(“Alfred Stieglitz” AND pictorialism NOT “straight photography”).

        If you are doing this in the discovery search or in certain databases then it may be necessary to do an advanced search with separate lines for each search term, instead of creating one string. But if this search is happening in a search engine like google, then you may have to input your query as one line.   

General History Sources

  • Britannica - History of Photography

    Britannica offers a very in depth overview of the history of photography. From Camera obscura, Daguerreotype, to digital. They go over some of the important inventors of photographic processes, and talk about some influential photographers. This article delves into the different ways photography can be used, as well as different forms of photography. Such as architectural, photojournalism, naturalistic and portrait photography. This is a very good and very broad overview of photography from invention to now. they even have a section about Photography as art.  You are also able to browse articles about important people mentioned and look at related resources and videos. 

Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). History of photography. Britannica. Retrieved from

  • Explore Major Advances in the History of Photograohy

    This article from The Spruce Crafts goes over the earlier inventions in the field, similar to the last source, but then also goes on with more in depth descriptions of inventions that came later. Such inventions include: roll film, instant film, SLR cameras, smart cameras, and digital photography. it is again useful for a brief overview and learning the timeline of these inventions. 

Masoner, L. (2023, July 6). A Brief History of Photography and the Camera: Explore the major advances in the history of photography. The Spruce Crafts.

The New York Public Library. (2013). An introduction to photographic processes.

This is a very brief telling of the timeline of inventions that resulted in photography as we know it today. From the pinhole camera to the digital camera. this is useful source if you just need a refresher on the history or to quickly pin point processes and people to learn more about. 

Evolution of photography - important events in photography history. Photography History Facts. (2023). 

Parry, K., & Lewis, J.W. (2021). Ubiquity: Photography's Multitudes. Leuven: Leuven University Press., 

Merriam-Webster. (2023). Ubiquity.

The George Eastman Museum created a series of 12 short videos (George Eastman was the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company) as an introduction to the photographic processes from before photography, to daguerreotypes, to digital photography. Here we have the video Before Photography to give you a sense of the ideas and discoveries that led up to the invention of photography. Narrated by the Process Historian, and Independent Photo Curator, the Video is not boring and it is clear the narrators have a firm grasp on what they are talking about. 

George Eastman Museum. (2014). Before Photography - Photographic Processes Series - Chapter 1 of 12. YouTube. Retrieved November 20, 2023, from