200 years of photography within a few walls

Photography is a form of art that has been around since the 1800s and it has always been special when compared to other forms of art. But just how did photography come to be what it is today?

A History of Photography: Selections from the Museum’s Collection is being showcased at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts until May 3, 2020. The exhibit chooses the photos to demonstrate the evolution of photography through time. Every six months a new selection of photographs is showcased to explore different themes and artists.

When photography was first invented in 1824, it was called heliography, created by Nicéphore Niépce. What would originally take several days to make could now be made in only a day, by means of using  a residue of lavender oil distillation.

Niépce later died in 1833, and in his place came a man by the name of Louis Daguerre. He invented the daguerreotype, which was the first photographic process to include a development stage. This development was a huge amplification of the effect of light that it hardly took any longer than 30 minutes.

In 1869, Louis Ducos du Hauron made the first color photograph applying the principle of light decomposition into the three primary colors. He made three photos of the same subject, each of them through a different filter, one for each primary color. He obtained three positives that he dyed with the color corresponding to each filter. By superimposing in register the three images, he got the restitution of the colors. We had finally obtained color in photographs.

Photography has had centuries of evolution, and it is still growing. The quality of modern day cameras are always improving, and they will continue to improve.

With more than 30,000 photos and over 4,000 photographers in the museum’s collection, the exhibit can keep viewers occupied for hours.

One certain exhibit is their many photos of famous photographer, Robert Frank, in which they have more than 400 of his photos.

I was particularly interested in Scraping the Sky by Vicky Roy. The photo depicts five  pillars that appear to be scraping the sky. In the photo, we are presented with these man made structures standing directly in front of a marvelous mountain in the background, which could represent the theme of man vs nature. The photo reminds the audience that humans are always trying to mess with nature for their own greed. Eventually there might not be any nature remaining for us to enjoy.

Scraping The Sky by Vicky Roy (MFAH)