If you’re a 21st century person, chances are good that you take pictures (and send them at the touch of a button) all of the time. More than 2 out of 3 American adults own a smartphone, nearly twice as many people as did 5 years ago. Ask yourself how many days it’s been since you last snapped a selfie, took a picture of what you ate for dinner, or took a candid shot of a kid doing something entirely adorable.
You didn’t do any of those things with a device that only functions as a camera. You didn’t have to wait to see what the picture would look like or pay someone to develop it for you. You may have never seen a photometer or a recipe for developer. It all happens inside a device that weighs about one quarter of a pound and responds to your touch. Mysterious, huh?
Here in the lab, we decided that it was time we went back and looked at where photography came from. Photography used to be a physical, chemical process involving some guess-work, some experience, and some (often clunky) specialized equipment. If you haven’t had to take a picture without being able to see the image or assess its quality beforehand, you haven’t taken a photograph like a 19th- or early 20th-century person. This month, we’ll help you recreate this experience–and show you that it’s easier than you think, too!