Thursday, September 21, 2017

Leaves of Glass: Daguerrotype to IPhone X

Portrait of Abraham Lincoln made by Nicholas H. Shepherd 1846
Author of today's blog post:  
 Emily V., Hunter College

This daguerrotype is the first photograph of the future President Abraham Lincoln, taken in 1846. In this early form of photography, images were produced on a silver coated plate. The images were very fragile and had to be protected with a glass covering. As the process of taking photographs evolved, inventors used, alternately, glass plates and tin plates, being able to produce images on less fragile and less expensive surfaces.  Taking a photo continuously became more accessible and affordable. George Eastman with his company, Kodak, created a camera that required a roll of film - a much more user friendly and portable device, in the year 1888.

 Photo from

By 1900, Kodak came out with a camera aiming to make photography even more affordable, at $1 for the price of a Brownie camera, and $.15 per roll of film.

The first digital camera was introduced in 1991. You can see how large it is – it is NOT what springs to mind when asked today about taking digital photos.

So when I came across a commercial for a new photo service, I thought I had stepped back in time; please take a look at this:

The future of photographic display
Fractures are different from traditional pictures and frames. Instead of printing on paper, we print directly on glass. Instead of separating the picture, frame, and mount, a Fracture combines all three into a beautiful, lasting, final product.

For the full website, please see :

In brief, this service is offering to print your photos onto glass, then ship them to you with a hole in the back and a screw so you can hang it up. 

Interesting, huh?  And what also is of particular interest is the verbiage I am copying here, also on the same webpage:

Do more with your pictures

Taking pictures is great. Printing pictures can be time consuming, overwhelming, and not all that fun. Fracture was founded around a simple idea: there should be a better way to print and display your photos.

What does this mean?  I thought taking pictures on glass was something we were trying to get away from?  I thought printing photos on paper was faster and better?

And in juxtaposition, I also want to point out the latest in user-friendly photography: the iPhone X.

“These are the coolest features of the new iPhone X”

With a completely glassed front and back, this iPhone has upgraded camera capabilities allowing one to take improved selfies and more professional portraits with depth, shading and nuance. And the price: around $1,000.

Has technology really come full circle?  Or is this all the consolidated effort of marketing teams?

Would you pay to have your photos printed on glass and shipped to you? Is this a return to fragility or something else?

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