Fascinating Videos About 6 Photographic Processes Used Through History

George Eastman House just finished its 6 part video series on photographic processes used throughout history. The short educational videos run about 3-6 minutes each, and provide a great look into the various ways photographers of old created their images.

Here’s the entire six-part series for your enjoyment:

The Daguerreotype

Invented in the early 1800s by Louis Daguerre, the daguerreotype was the first process to become commercially successful. The first ever photograph of a human being was shot using this process.

The Collodion Process

Invented in the mid 1800s, the collodion process was widely popular and almost completely replaced the daguerreotype within 10 years of being introduced. This is the process people refer to when they say “wet plate” photography.

The Albumen Print

Used in the mid-to-late-1800s, the albumen print process was also known as the albumen silver print. It was the first commercially viable method of creating prints on paper from photographic negatives. In case you didn’t know, albumen is another name for egg white, which was a primary ingredient in the process.

The Woodburytype

Invented in 1864, the woodburytype was the first photographic method capable of producing printed illustration material that preserved the details of photographs.

The Platinum Print

The platinum print is a monochrome printing method that surpasses every other chemical-based process in tonal range. Instead of silver, platinum is used in the emulsion coating the photo paper. The resulting photos are the most durable of prints, since platinum metals are extremely stable — these photos are estimated to have lifespans of at least thousands of years.

The Gelatin Silver Print

The gelatin silver print is the black and white process that you might be familiar with if you’ve ever shot monochrome film photographs. It was the dominant process in the industry until color photography drank its milkshake in the 1960s. If you’ve ever taken a photo class that involved processing and developing your images in a darkroom, this is probably what you used.

  • Kassana

    I think you mean 1864 not 1964 when referring to the Woodburytype.

  • Jason Bryant

    I could not have loved this series of videos any more. Much Thanks to the wonderful team at the George Eastman House. I’d love to see more.

  • Christopher Schneiter

    These are great! As a Digital photography instructor, this is a great resource. It was great seeing inside Eastman House. I was a student Volunteer there in the 70’s and the place changed my life.

  • Bart Kuik

    This is great stuff, but it kind of leaves a gap in the 20th century. Most of the photos from that century were made on clumsy, expensive 35mm chemical analog film. Of course there were a lot of evolutionary steps (color, better emulsions, zoom, autofocus), but the basic concept stayed the same in the most revolutionary century in human history.

  • omar

    35mm would be gelatine silver.

  • Frank Cost

    These are fantastic! Thank you!

  • Alan Noon

    A nice presentation making each process clear and understandable.

  • Andrew Seymour

    Very nice presentation of the history and thanks for sharing!