In 1839 a process was invented that would forever change human perception and communication. Dubbed photography from the Greek words phos meaning light, and graphos meaning writing (Jeffrey, 240), the process was a much anticipated discovery. Long before its actual birth, the basic concept of of photography was common knowledge. It wasn't until the 1800s, however, that the idea of permenently fixing an image to a surface became tangible. Upon this discovery came the race to create the 'photograph.'.
Encoureged by a very eager middle class, early photography had many expirimentors. Two of which are credited as the fathers of the invention. Both of these fathers created photography simultaneously in 1839, announcing their success within three months of one another. Although each of these inventors imployed different techniques, the overall effect was the same, a permanently fixed photographic image. .
The first of the two technologies was the work of Louis Jaques Mande Daguerre. His method of photography incorporated the use of copper plates covered in light-sensitive chemicals as printable surfaces. Both the weight of the plates, as well as the availability of the chemicals kept photography out of the hands of the middle-class. This elite status, however, was short lived.
Photography was the direct result of a demanding middle class causing a push for both inexpensive materials as well as simple devices. Photography did not spend much time in the elite stages of society. Instead the medium quickly evolved to accomodate a very eager public. Only ten years after its invention, a society of photographers was formed, organizing a profesion that was now becoming a fad. As one photo-historian explains: by 1851, "pictures supplemented names, and identity became a matter of images rather than words” (Jeffrey, 241). .
Specialization of the medium took many forms, but it wasn't until 1880 that the most blatant of these forms surfaced.