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The invention of photography is registered in 1837 by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre. Daguerre was a scene painter at the theater and he already was familiar with the camera obscura, a small dark room with a tiny hole which allowed an image from the outside in. This inspired Daguerre to create the first photo camera. Before him, there was no way the image to leave the dark room. Daguerre solved this challenge by finding a way to engrave the image onto a piece of copper.

From then on, the invention became popular throughout the world. ‘Daguerrotypes’ began being produced in industrialized areas. This helped for the invention to be perfected by the manufacturers. In 1840, the first European studios appeared in UK. In the late 1880s George Eastman created the first film rolls, which made photography more accessible and cheaper.

Photography had a huge impact in society in the 19th century and even though it received negative criticism by some, this didn’t stop it from evolving very fast. Its invention revolutionized art which until then it was accessible only to upper and the aristocratic class. Now, the middle and lower class could have their portraits in very short time and in an affordable price. Some art historians claim this as the democratization of Art. Others welcomed this positively, while others criticized it as industrialization of art for commercial purposes.

At the time of the invention and spreading of photography, the leading art movements in Europe were Romanticism and Neoclassicism. The first had already introduced a shift in the artistic world by emphasizing the artist’s expression. Romanticism included many unrealistic elements, like supernatural beings and things that do not belong to reality. In Neoclassical painting, there was a revival of the representation of mythological figures and scenes.

Painters who witnessed the evolution of photography developed a different perception of images and scenery from their predecessors. These painters understood that reality is in constant movement and each moment has limits. This was the reason that Impressionists deviated and accepted that photography was the best way to capture still pictures and explored other aspects of painting such as color, movement and most importantly light.

Naturally, Impressionists focused more on the impression of the reality rather than depicting it as it is. It became therefore widely accepted that painting could not compete with photography in depicting reality.

By the beginning of the 20th century, it was clear that photography had come to stay. Not only was that but there another brand-new medium for representing reality: film. After an 1895 film projection in Paris by the Lumière brothers, there was a quick improvement in this new medium. It gained significant popularity in a very short period of time. Representing reality accurately was no longer a necessary task for painters. For this reason, Impressionism was only the first of a series of artistic movements which strayed away from realism.

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