Photography's Reinvention

The Open Door
Talbot described this work as an example "of the early beginnings of a new art." 
William Fox Talbot, The Open Door, 1843. Salted paper print from calotype negative.











Daguerreotype Mania


daguerreotype mania

First commercial daguerreotype studios open in New York and Paris
First studios in London
200 studios in New York and 400 in Paris
284 studios in London
Theodore Maurisset, Fantasies: La Daguerreotypemanie, 1839.











Dagnan-Bouveret, Wedding at the Photographer's, 1879.











Jenny Lind Headrest, 1851.











A picture's worth?
  • A professionally made daguerreotype cost one to two pounds in London - about a month's salary for the common person
  • In the United States, a daguerreotype made at the local studio cost $2.50 to $5
  • The price of a daguerreotype, at the height of its popularity in the early 1850's, ranged from:

    25¢ for a sixteenth plate (1 5/8" X 1 3/8"),

    50¢ for a low-quality "picture factory" likeness

    $2 for a medium-sized portrait at Matthew Brady's Broadway studio. 

    50¢, probably the most common price paid, and is equivalent to $14.20 today

    Southworth and Hawes charged $33 for a portrait (about $450 in today's money)











But, wait! Let's not forget Talbot!


William Henry Fox Talbot

John Moffat, Portrait of William Henry Fox Talbot, 1866.











William Henry Fox Talbot, Latticed Window at Lacock Abbey, 1835.
Photogenic drawing.

Talbot's window











Talbot produced his first successful
photograph on paper in 1835
  • Soaked paper in a solution of sodium chloride, then a solution of silver nitrate
  • Repeated process several times to create a dense concentration of chemicals
  • Exposed wet sheet of iodized paper to light  
    (cutting exposure time from 1 hour to 10 minutes)
  • Image fixed with either potassium iodide or sodium chloride
William Henry Fox Talbot, 1837,
Photogenic Drawing.
In the following years, Talbot discovered that an invisible, "latent image" could be developed with gallic acid
Began coating paper with wax to make it more translucent
Negative was contact printed onto another sheet of sesnsitized paper























Direct Positive Print
the calotype established a negative/ positive printmaking system
1. Negative image produced by exposing light-sensitive paper
2. Positive image produced by contact printing onto another piece of paper
Negative Image
Positive Image
William Henry Fox Talbot, Oak Tree in Winter at Lacock Abbey, Early 1840s.
Calotype negative and Salted Paper Print positive.











William Henry Fox Talbot, Articles of China, 1844.
Salted Paper Print made from Calotype negative.











Salted paper:

  • Soaked in salt concentration
  • One side coated with silver nitrate
  • Dried
  • Contact printed with negative image
William Henry Fox Talbot, The Cloisters at Laycock Abbey, Salt print from a calotype negative, early 1840s.











Southworth and Hawes, Rollin Heber Neal, c. 1850. Daguerreotype.
William Henry Fox Talbot, The Ladder, 1844.
Salted paper print from Calotype negative.


Daguerreotyp vs. Calotype
Highly detailed
Creates contrast and mass
One step
Two step
Exposure time
Few seconds
Few minutes
Produced one-of-a-kind image
Produced infinite number of copies
Somewhat expensive if done at high quality studio
Relatively inexpensive
Experienced businessman
Scientist and intellectual











The Pencil of Nature

The Pencil of Nature = first book to include photographic images
  • In order to encourage the use of the calotype process and his former valet's photo printing establishment, Talbot sold subscriptions to The Pencil of Nature
  • Printed in six parts with 24 salted paper prints from paper negatives
  • Today, approximately forty complete or substantially complete copies survive
William Henry Fox Talbot, The Pencil of Nature, 1844 - 1846.











Talbot's valet's printing operation, c. 1845.











The Open Door

William Fox Talbot, The Open Door, 1843. Salted paper print from calotype negative.











picturesque = suggesting a painted scene, quaint, charming and favoring the emotional experience

sublime = lofty, grand or exalted in thought, expression or manner; of outstanding spiritual, intellectual or moral worth; tending to inspire awe
William Henry Fox Talbot, The Game Keeper, c. 1843.











Charles Negre, The Vampire, 1853. Missions Héliographiques. Salted paper print.











Baldus, Edouard-Denis Baldus, Notre Dame, 1855. Salted paper print.