TYPES OF PHOTOGRAPHS
Karen Utter Jennings
When you look at a family photograph collection, you will see all types of pictures: tintypes, paper prints, cased images, Polaroids, black-and-white, color, and digitalized. Through the years, types of photographs came and went quickly. That is why there is a good market for buying, selling, and collecting photographs today.
Here is an overview of types of photographs.
Daguerreotypes were made from about 1839 to 1870. The sitting time for these types of photographs could be anywhere from five minutes to 30 minutes. Photographers sometimes used clamps to help their subjects sit still.
Calotypes were the first paper images and were made from about 1841 to the late 1850s. These types of photos were not very popular. The ones surviving today are usually found in museums.
Ambrotypes were the negative images made on glass plates with a dark coating on the backs. They lasted from about 1852 to the early 1870s.
The tintypes, also called ferrotypes or melainotypes, were actually created on a thin, blackened iron sheet, then coated with chemicals, and varnished to protect the image. There is much more information about the popular tintype photographs, which I will cover in a future column.
Albumen prints, from about 1850 to the early 1900s, helped make photography a profitable venture. They were also printed on paper.
Stereographs were prints were nearly identical images mounted beside each other and viewed through a viewer called a stereograph. They were popular from about 1854 to 1938.
Cabinet card photographs were made from about 1866 to 1906. The photographic images were put on large, oversized card stock. I have quite a few of these cabinet cards in my collection.
George Eastman founded the new age of photography with black-and-white snapshots. During the late 1880s to the present, these prints were taken with box cameras that were easy to use. Eastman named his new camera the Kodak and the company’s promotion was geared to specifically women and children.
Photo postcards are a special class to me. I own a precious photo postcard dated February 1912. The photo shows my paternal great-grandmother, 17, holding her son, my grandfather, Perry Utter. On the postcard side, she wrote to her younger sister in Rocky Comfort. There is a lot of information pertaining to photo postcards, which I will write about in a future column.
Auto-chrome photographs were the first color prints and dated between 1904 to the later 1930s. There are special handling tips for owners of these types of prints.
Color paper prints are well known to us today. The Kodak Company introduced Kodachrome 16mm movie film in 1935 and color prints with negatives in 1941. The popularity of Digital Imaging in today’s market ended the manufacture of Kodachrome film.
From 1947 to the present, an instant photo is recognizable due to the photo having a thick black pouch-like backing. Polaroids became popular due to the consumer snapping a photo and waiting for a few seconds while the photo developed inside the camera, not needing to take film to the store for development. Special care is necessary for these types of photos.
Today, using digital cameras is the popular way for photographers to take their family photos. Digital imaging goes along with scrap booking treasured photos for fun and easy creative projects. While many people embrace digital cameras, the cameras requiring film continue to be popular.
Sources: “Photography as a Tool in Genealogy,” by Ron and Maureen Taylor and “Getting Up To Date,” Family Tree Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 7, November 2010.