Take a Brief Journey Through the History of Photography

World-renowned auction house Christie’s has paid tribute to the history of photography, following the first time humanity was able to records events all the way through today’s digital landscape and its connection with the blockchain.

First spotted by Fstoppers, Darius Himes, International Head of Photographs, presents a video that looks back at the very beginnings of photography as a medium and how scientific and historical context shaped its journey to where it is today. He describes photography as “one of the most diverse and exciting mediums of the past 200 years.”


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Invented in the 1830s, photography was first born as a breakthrough in optics and chemistry. This invention gave the world a “new pair of eyes” and the ability to record events and reproduce them for books and journals for the first time.

This development coincided with a big boom in travel as well as social and political turbulence, making the Civil War the first conflict on American soil that was recorded through the lens. Numerous photographs have been preserved from that period, giving future generations an insight that had never been possible before.

Christie’s Auction House. Possibly by GEORGE N. BARNARD (1819-1902). [View of a Soldier Watering his Horse] Bull Run, Blackburn’s Ford, Virginia, c. 1861-1862
As the techniques advanced, photography entered into the art sphere more prominently and prompted experimentation by artists of the time. Each photographer left an imprint on the industry – be it a new experimental technique, an intimate look into their thought process, a daring subject or theme, or simply the raw reality of the time.


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When color film became available in the 1930s, photographers swiftly adopted the new type of photography, especially in fashion, advertisement, and pop culture. Similarly, the rise of digital photography later in the century opened up a world of endless possibilities, eventually leading to the introduction of blockchain — a digital ledger of transactions — into the art world.

Christie’s YouTube video briefly touches on numerous photographers and artists who have left a significant mark on this medium and the art world as a whole and are still celebrated to this day.

More videos about the history of the art world can be found on Christie’s YouTube page.