The Best Historical Photographs that Capture the Essence of the Past

Figures during the Early Days of Photography: A Tribute to Pioneering Photographers

The Best Historical Photographs that Capture the Essence of the Past

In February, the Metropolitan Museum of Art unveiled a new exhibition that celebrates the birth of art photography. The exhibition includes portraits from some of the most famous artists from the late 19th century. With the invention of photographic glass plates, people were able to capture images on film for the first time in history. This exhibition is a beautiful tribute to these early photographers and their work. It’s a chance to see history captured not with paint on a canvas, but with light on a plate.

The Birth of Photography
When it comes to photography, the 20th century is credited with much of the advancement in this art form. Many men in Europe, like Daguerre and d’Orsay, brought along a system that used a gunpowder cartridge to set a spring in motion. Then when the spring was released, the explosive exploded, shooting the cartridge to expose the silver nitrate, which glowed when it was exposed to the light. Two of the biggest innovations were the invention of the camera and the invention of the negative. This allowed photographers to capture the image without actually touching it. Not to mention the fact that it was even more easy to put a person in the image if they weren’t holding a metal bar.

How the Exhibit is Organized
Photographs on the first day were organized in alphabetical order. They were displayed in several halls. Because some of the photographers were dead, a few of them had be photographed. So, they were arranged in chronological order. The exhibition was also organized in a circle around the museum. Visitors can learn about various photography trends and forms. With a cursory glance, the exhibit is very accessible. But, there is a lot to learn about these early photographers, too. The exhibit is presented in a very “hands on” way. There are stations around the museum where people can learn more about certain photographs. Visitors can also ask a docent questions to understand the details of each work.

What Is Pictured in the Exhibit?
The exhibit begins in 1860 with the first photograph ever published. This photograph is an album of very large pictures taken from the vantage point of the balcony. The scene was already packed with photographers and their tripods, but this is the first ever time someone actually made a profit with this product. The exhibit continues with portraits of Mark Twain and President Grover Cleveland, both made in the 1890s. Both of these images are extremely small, and they were never intended to be seen by the public. This has allowed us to see these photos on the Metropolitan Museum’s Instagram account. Eventually, the exhibition moves into the turn of the 20th century. This time, you can see portraits of Theodore Roosevelt, J. P. Morgan, Babe Ruth, and many more.

These are just a few of the events and exhibitions going on in the city this February. Many of these events will be ticketsed but there are many free museums, galleries, and even a special exhibit at the Met that are sure to be must-see events for all New Yorkers. We wish you a prosperous February and here’s to a productive spring.