[ 1839 ]

Photo 1

This was the first commercially available camera and it produced the first distinctive photographic positives.

Fowke's Bellows
[ 1856 ]

Photo 1

Francis Fowke was an architect and engineer, he patented the folding photographic (bellows) camera in May 1856.

Stirn's Waistcoat
[ 1886 ]

Photo 1

This was a "detective camera" designed to be carried under the coat or vest, invisible to the eye.

Kodak Number 1
[ 1889 ]

Photo 1

The Kodak No 1 was Kodak’s second camera, the first simply called ‘Kodak’. The shutter was set by pulling a string and tripped by pressing a button on the side.

Stirn's Waistcoat
[ 1886 ]

Photo 1

This was a "detective camera" designed to be carried under the coat or vest, invisible to the eye.

Leica I
[ 1930 ]

Photo 1

The Leica I was the first commercial Leica camera, and the first mass-produced 35mm camera.

Nikon F
[ 1959 ]

Nikon F

Quickly became Nikon’s best selling camera, and contributed to the rise in popularity of SLR cameras.

Sony Mavica
[ 1981 ]

Photo 1

The first commercially available camera to produce still images by electronic means rather than film.

Logitech FotoMan
[ 1990 ]

Photo 1

The FotoMan was the first digital camera to go on sale. Fuji had created a digital camera as early as 1988, but it was never commercially available.

Kodak DCS 100
[ 1991 ]

Photo 1

The world's first digital SLR was nothing like the DSLRs of today. It was capable of storing up to 156 uncompressed 1.3MP images. It cost around $30,000

Apple Quicktake 100
[ 1994 ]

Photo 1

Widely regarded as the first proper, mainstream consumer digital camera, the Kodak-made Quicktake 100 was also the first to use USB to connect to a computer.

Casio QV-10
[ 1995 ]

Photo 1

The world's first digital camera to incorporate an LCD screen on the back (1.8") for image preview and playback.

Nikon D1
[ 1999 ]

Photo 1

The first fully integrated digital SLR designed from the ground up, rather than a digital bolt-on to a 35mm film SLR.

Canon EOS 300D
[ 2003 ]

Photo 1

It wasn't revolutionary in its specification, but it was in its social impact, bringing digital SLR photography to the masses for the first time.

Canon EOS 5D
[ 2005 ]

Photo 1

The first consumer DSLR to feature a full frame sensor, much smaller and cheaper than any previous full frame camera.

Olympus E330
[ 2006 ]

Photo 1

First DSLR to feature full colour Live View, enabling images to be previewed on the LCD screen prior to shooting.

Nikon D3
[ 2007 ]

Photo 1

Its 12mil pixels were larger than average, and their superior light collecting power enabled it to produce image quality in low light that had never been achievable before.

Apple iPhone
[ 2007 ]

Photo 1

The iPhone has done more than any other smartphone to spread the concept of using a phone as a replacement for a camera.

Nikon D90
[ 2008 ]

Photo 1

The first DSLR to be able to shoot video.

Canon EOS 5D Mk.II
[ 2008 ]

Photo 1

Single-handledly responsible for kick starting the now widespread use of DSLRs in the broadcast film and TV industry.

Panasonic Lumix G1
[ 2008 ]

Photo 1

The world's first Compact System Camera and also paved the way for the wide spectrum of interchangeable lens cameras we see today.

Nikon D800
[ 2012 ]

Photo 1

Came with unprecedented 36 million pixel full frame sensor which ended any lingering doubts that DSLR was now better than 35mm film.

Sony RX1
[ 2012 ]

Photo 1

The world's first full frame compact camera, and simultaneously the world's smallest full frame camera.

Google Glass
[ 2014 ]

Photo 1

Glass is smart eyewear that helps you get exactly what you want, in the moment. Search, photos and videos, messaging, apps and more.


A look at how photography has influenced and shaped society
through people, art, events and technology.


Scroll down to start

Once upon a time

As significant snapshots go, it’s hard to trump the substance of the first photograph ever taken. Strange, too, that we only know it was taken in either 1826 or 1827. Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce’s ‘View From The Window at Le Gras’, as it has come to be known, remains preserved in a state of ambiguity, while today time and date stamps flow matter-of-factly through our devices. Two hundred years later, photography is a medium so pervasive that we are in danger of trivialising its powers. Bird This is an exploration of those powers and their capacity to communicate worlds not necessarily unknown, but certainly perspectives unseen.

This story takes you on a journey from the earliest days of photography along a path that looks at everything from photography as an art form to photos that literally changed the world.

1765 - 1833 | Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

[ 1765 - 1833 ]
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce

Our story begins

The opportunity to influence how a moment is visually represented must be seen as a watershed in human history. Before that juncture, if you didn’t witness something yourself, all you had to go on were the words or drawings of others in your mind’s eye. But as the technology improved and its use quickly spread, photography became another medium through which news could travel and crucially, be sold.

While news corporations and advertisers rubbed their hands with glee, photography’s power to inspire and delight met head on with its capacity to horrify and outrage.Bird As your memory of seismic world events will remind you, your mind works strongest when appalled.

The advent of digital photography in the 1990s meant that the quality of cameras rose at the same time as the price of entry fell. This coincided with the dawn of the internet, so our exposure to powerful images exploded.

Now, our days are awash with the freeze-framed moment. Millions of pictures are uploaded every minute and anyone with a smartphone can make a play as a serious photographerBird. This egalitarian reality has created the need for professionals to seek new and untried ways to distinguish their work and elevate their art.


The word photography derives from the Greek photos (“light”) and graphe (“drawing”). A French painter, Hercules Florence, who used it in his diary to describe the process, coined the term.


Old timer structural worker by Lewis Hine [1]

A structural worker is building the Empire State Building. Workers such as this man were often referred to as "Old timers" because in that time era, mostly middle-aged men worked on building structures.

The "Baker" explosion [2]

The "Baker" explosion, part of Operation Crossroads, a nuclear weapon test by the United States military at Bikini Atoll, Micronesia, on 25 July 1946. The wider, exterior cloud is actually just a condensation cloud caused by the Wilson chamber effect, and was very brief.

Southern Right Whale [3]

A diver has a close encounter with a southern right whale.

No caption neededGlifo

What is it about photography that permits such a deep effect on us?Bird Is it that they haul precious particles of time and space right into our present moment? Or is it the visual cues of shapes and colours that spark our memories? The answer of course is a combination of both, when we consider what our understanding of human psyche tells us.

Our consciousness is less concerned with spectacle than with connecting the dots.Bird Newspapers and magazines are skilled in pushing agendas or jokes with well-written captions, but photographs are most powerful when our brains make more intensely personal connections with the image.Bird That’s where our instincts to relate and reveal, to celebrate and protect, come into their own.

Captions are not essential to our appreciation of photography (and indeed a relatively recent development) but often the circulation and appropriation of iconic images means they inevitably come to play a part in our understanding of public events. To simplify the matter, Robert Hariman, co-author of No Caption Needed has put it this way: “It might help to ask what one finds in photography that they don’t find elsewhere…”Bird

Hurricane Sandy

1.3 million Hurricane Sandy photos were posted to Instagram at a speed of 10 photos per second

Show me the money

Photography as a commodity has become a multi-billion dollar industry, made possible by the worlds of fashion, sport and celebrity. With all artistic respect to the 2000 snaps on your phone, there exists an altogether different breed of photograph, those that have made the jump into a realm where iconography, scarcity and contemporary art meet to generate million-dollar valuations and legendary statuses.

Take, for example, ‘Rhein II’, by Andreas Gursky (1999). It’s not known who bought this 12ft-wide, Plexiglass-mounted picture of the Rhine River in Germany for $4.3 million (US) at auction in 2011, but they obviously saw something in it that stirred them. It’s one of a set of six; the others hang at the New York museum of modern art and the Tate Modern in London.

And consider the fees that the uber photographers of the world can command. Names such as Morgan Norman, Lynsey Addario, George Steinmetz, Terry Richardson, Annie Leibovitz regularly hit the rich lists - and for good reason. Their attention to detail and ability to dominate their chosen niches leave little room for competitors, only innovators. These aren’t overnight success stories, they’re careers forged through years of toil and hustle.



The most expensive camera ever sold was a rare 1923 Leica camera, which went for $2.8 million at auction in Vienna.

The Technology

There are different ways to look at the popularisation of photography through technology. Some welcome change and argue in favour of progress. Others bemoan the belittlement of an art form and of an education in shooting on film and working in darkrooms. While our professional-standard camera phones leave little room for the sentimental, they have great storage capacity (even for the dud photos).

The interesting thing about photography is that despite the march of technology, the essence of a captured image that first entranced Joseph Nicéphore Niépce remains.Bird It’s far easier for anyone to capture a technically proficient image, but the skill of making it aesthetically pleasing and emotionally resonant doesn’t come with a digital camera. It remains an elusive skill.

From the first daguerreotype camera through to the very latest digital SLR, the pace of change has been dramatic. Those who have moved with the times will still work fully cognizant of light and exposure, but the difference today is that errors are easily tweaked back on the computer with photo editing software. Every click of the shutter used to cost money, but now there’s far more room to fire away, experiment and take chances.Bird This, perhaps, is technology’s greatest achievement.


The first photo to be shared using a mobile phone was taken in 1997 by Philippe Kahn. He sent snaps from the maternity ward where his daughter Sophie was born. Kahn, an inventor from France, is credited with developing the world's first camera phone.

James Clerk Maxwell, a Scottish physicist, created the first colour photograph in 1861. He photographed a tartan ribbon three times, using a red, blue and yellow filter, and combined the three images into the final colour composite.


One only needs to spend some time browsing Instagram’s most popular images to see that some people are better at acquiring followers than others. So despite a proliferation of social media platforms and photo filtering apps, those with an eye for a frame and a sense of timing are still able to distinguish their abilities.

The psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman has pointed out that “The ‘Instagram Generation’ now experiences the present as an anticipated memory”Bird, which is to say that we have a brand new demographic that treats the present moment as something that needs to be reflected upon later. Futurist Jason Silva has pointed out that we now, through cropping, filtering and anticipating ‘Likes’, take it upon ourselves to ‘design’ what that later moment is going to feel like.Bird

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It’s certainly a real thing and it’s here to stay. While it’s easy to dismiss this development as a narcissistic one, it’s also reasonably straightforward to argue that it’s a liberating development. We have been given the power to design our own memories and narratives, the freedom to choose how we want to remember things.


The first photo to be shared using a mobile phone

The first photo to be shared using a mobile phone was taken in 1997 by Philippe Kahn. He sent snaps from the maternity ward where his daughter Sophie was born. Kahn, an inventor from France, is credited with developing the world's first camera phone.

The Future

The Arcanum - The Magical Academy for the Mastery of the Arts

Google Lens

Google Lens


Now that photography has become something that happens largely through our mobile devices, its collision course with the world of wearables is clear.Bird Nascent technologies such as Google Glass, the Apple Watch and health monitor Fitbit tell us that everything from brainwave readers to exercise trackers will hit the mainstream within a few years. This isn’t a prediction, it’s a trend, with 90 million wearable devices expected to have shipped by the end of 2014.

In the 1980s, professional photographers looked at emerging photographic technology such as auto focus and assumed that it would never be fast enough for shooting sports or wildlife. Little could they guess, however, that they were within two decades of someone strapping a GoPro camera [Watch the video] to a falcon for high definition to capture extraordinary video footage of the hunt and capture of a crow.

As cloud storage grows more affordable, it does not defy logic to conclude that we will all, perhaps sooner than we realise, be recording every living minute of our days in order for future generations to play back and understand how we lived. Chris Darcy, the self-described ‘most connected man in the world’, who spends most days hooked up to at least ten data-capturing devices has said: “You don't need to fetishize me. I am you, just a few years from now.”Bird

Projects like The Arcanum will see technology take centre stage as the Master & Apprentice model becomes available to anyone with an internet connection. Designed to be a mentor-led, goal-based, social learning experience like no other in existence and is, according to The Arcanum CEO, Peter Giordano, “the most personal, effective and fun way to Level Up your skills in photography.”

- 880 BILLION PHOTOS IN 2014 -


Every 2 minutes today we snap as many photos as the whole of humanity took in the 1800s. Yahoo meanwhile estimates that in 2014, about 880 billion photographs will be taken. That's 123 photos for every man, woman and child on Earth.


A North Korean man on a bus waves [1]

A North Korean man on a bus waves his hand as a South Korean man weeps after a luncheon meeting during inter-Korean temporary family reunions at Mount Kumgang resort October 31, 2010. South Koreans were visiting North Korea for 3 days to meet their North Korean relatives, whom they have been separated from since the 1950-53 war.

Keeper Patrick with Lingwesi [2]

Keeper Patrick with Lingwesi with a five week old orphan African Elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Tsavo East National Park, Kenya. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the most successful orphan-elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world.

Brian O’Driscoll [2]

Brian O’Driscoll meets 6 year old rugby fan, Michaela Morely, holding the Heineken Cup trophy.

Love StoriesGlifo

A brave new world or a dystopian mess? Technological change only comes in two packages; incremental or enormously disruptive.BirdSpeculating on the darker, scarier possibilities for our future is a fool’s errand, because the only certainty is change itself.Bird Some, like URME are dedicated to protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities with prosthetic masks.

Let’s focus instead on everything that’s real and beautiful about photography.

As our technologies continue to collect, tweak, save and transmit an ever-growing flux of data, we are uploading nothing less than a new dimension of information. These photos are a reminder that there are landscapes that bind us all, whether they be real or of the mind. The gallery above consists of a selection of images with stories that may not be immediately obvious. When provided with context, however, they pack some emotional clout.

Each picture has a story that tugs at the cords that run through us all. Even though the people and animals featured are complete strangers, it is their accompanying narrative that we as human beings can relate to. In connecting the dots on the thousand-word images, we are reminded that we are but a pixel place on this pale blue dotBird [Watch the video].



A study by Kelsey Blackburn and James Schriillo from Wake Forest University found that the left side of peoples’ faces are perceived and rated as more aesthetically pleasing than the right.


Consider, as a curtain closer, these words from Ross Anderson, the deputy editor of Aeon Magazine. Writing about the photographs taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, Anderson said: “Through the sheer aesthetic force of its discoveries, the Hubble distilled the complex abstractions of astrophysics into singular expressions of colour and light, vindicating Keats's famous couplet: ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty.’Bird Though philosophy has hardly registered it, the Hubble has given us nothing less than an ontological awakening, a forceful reckoning with what is. The telescope compels the mind to contemplate space and time on a scale just shy of the infinite.”



There is no way a single piece of content could possibly summarise and incorporate all that photography gives to us in terms of life-enrichment and emotion. The complexities around the way each individual perceives each image is sufficient to write a paper on its own, so we apologise if we have not included something close to your photographic heart.

Photography is at the heart of what we do at Photobox and it's your photos that make our personalised products so special.

We hope you will join us and share your experiences and opinions on this piece and photography as a whole over on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.


Section: Introduction
View From the Window at Le Gras
Source: Wikipedia
Joseph Nicéphore
Source: Wikipedia

Section: Introduction
View From the Window at Le Gras
Source: Wikipedia

Section: Our Story Begins
Man with Brownie Camera at Burning Man
Source: Trey Ratcliffe
Old timer structural worker
Source: Lewis Hine
The "Baker" explosion
Source: United States Department of Defense
A diver has a close encounter with a southern right whale
Source: BRIAN J. SKERRY (National Geographic Creative)

Section: Show Me The Money
Rhein II
Source: Andreas Gursky

Section: Technology
The Mammoth Camera by J.A. Anderson
Source: Kodak Collector and Historic Camera
The Tartan Ribbon
Source: James Clerk Maxwell

Section: Mobile
First Camera Phone Picture
Source: Wikipedia
City Street View by Dustin Dong
Source: Dustin Dong @worldonpause

Section: The Future
Google Glass with frame
Source: Wikipedia
Google Smart Contact Lens Project
Source: Google
Space Selfie
Source: Nasa

Section: Love Stories
A North Korean man on a bus waves
Source: Reuters
Man with elephant
Source: GERRY ELLIS / MINDEN PICTURES (National Geographic Creative)
Brian O’Driscoll
Source: Leinster Rugby

Section: Epilogue
Michael Collins
Source: Nasa

Section: Tiimeline
Daguerre-Giroux, Fowke's Bellows, Stirn's Waistcoat, Kodak Number 1
Source: National Media Museum/Science & Society Picture Library

Leica I
Source: Leica

Polaroid Land Model 95
Source: Vintage Camera Lab

Nikon F
Source: Nikon

Sony Mavica, Logitech FotoMan, Kodak DCS 100, Apple Quicktake 100, Casio QV-10, Nikon D1, Canon EOS 300D, Canon EOS 5D, Olympus E330, Nikon D3, Nikon D90, Canon EOS 5D Mk.II, Panasonic Lumix G1, Nikon D800, Sony RX1
Source: Whatdigitalcamera.com

Apple iPhone
Source: Engadget.com

Google Glass
Source: Google

Samsung SMART NX1
Source: Samsung

EOS 7D Mark II
Source: Canon




This new feature is coming soon - watch this space!

A password reset email has been sent to your email address.

Forgotten your password?