Daguerreotype to Digital

A Brief History of the Photographic Process

Photography was one of the most important inventions of the nineteenth century. The daguerreotype was the earliest practical photographic process, and was especially suited to portraiture. The images created were so lifelike that some referred to the daguerreotype as a "mirror with a memory."

The men and women who worked with photographic materials faced many challenges. Solving one problem often created another. The daguerreotype was expensive, relied on toxic material such as mercury, and could not be reproduced. The cyanotype was inexpensive, could be developed in rain water, and allowed for multiple copies. The problem? All the pictures were blue!

One process replaced another as photography became cheaper, easier, safer and more durable. However, several processes were often popular at the same time, much like film and digital pictures are both popular today.

The examples of each type of photographic process have been chosen from the Florida Photographic Collection and provide a view of the history of Florida as well as the history of the photographic process.