Introduction to Photography: Week 9: The History of Photography

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Introduction to Photography: Week 9: The History of Photography


Photography has always been more than just a hobby for me; it is a passion that shapes my life and fuels my creative spirit. For over a decade, I have immersed myself in the world of photography, using Nikon DSLRs and Mirrorless cameras to capture the beauty and essence of the world around me.

However, I felt the need to elevate my skills to new heights, unencumbered by the limitations of traditional schooling. It was during this search for knowledge that I stumbled upon ChatGPT, an AI-powered assistant that offered me the opportunity to create a personalized course plan for a self-directed “degree” in photography.

To my astonishment, the AI-generated lesson plans provided by ChatGPT were nothing short of remarkable. They were meticulously detailed, covering every aspect of the craft, and offered a comprehensive education in photography. Inspired by this, I made the decision to fully embrace this AI-generated curriculum and document my progress and insights on my blog. My aim was to share my journey with others who, like me, were fascinated by emerging technologies and their potential to enrich our lives.

Allow me to introduce myself; I’m Lauren McDonagh-Pereira, a photographer, artist, art collector, and web3 blogger. I am driven by an unwavering enthusiasm for exploring the intersection of art and technology. Through my blog, I seek to bridge the gap between these realms, sharing my experiences, discoveries, and thoughts on the remarkable synergy between creativity and AI.

In this blog post, I will post the complete Week 9 lesson plan for a lesson titled “History of Photography.” This lesson plan was completed generated by ChatGPT.

Please note that as an Amazon Affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. This allows me to support my creative endeavors and continue sharing valuable content with you.

So, without further ado, let’s dive deep into the wonders of photography and discover the transformative possibilities that await us at the intersection of art and technology. 

A Pinterest Pin for a blog post. The image is a 1920s black and white photography of 4 people standing by a river. The text reads, "Introduction to Photography. Week 9: History of Photography by ChatGPT"
A Complete Lesson Plan by ChatGPT


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ⓒ Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography 2013

Before we get into it, please consider a few quick DISCLAIMERS.

    • I am not a financial advisor, an art expert, a lawyer, or an accountant. Do your own research. 
    • This post represents my personal opinions and is NOT financial advice.
    • I am an artist. At the time of posting, I have works minted on the Tezos and Ethereum blockchain. Links contained in this article may point to my own minted NFTs or may point to the NFTs of other artists that I have collected from. If you choose to collect NFTs referenced in this article, I may earn money from your purchase.
    • This post may contain sponsored ads and affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you click on an ad and make a purchase. I am not responsible for 3rd party websites. 
    • Where noted, responses were generated by ChatGPT, an AI language model developed by OpenAI.
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The History of Photography

I wanted to start this article with a brief history of photography, so I asked ChatGPT to write me an essay. 

Prompt: “Please write me a 10 paragraph overview of the history of photography. Please cite your sources.”

ChatGPT Response: Overview of the History of Photography

Photography, as a medium, has a rich and fascinating history that spans nearly two centuries. From its early beginnings as an experimental process to the widespread use of digital cameras today, photography has revolutionized the way we capture and document the world around us. This overview provides a glimpse into the major milestones, influential figures, and technological advancements that have shaped the evolution of photography.

  1. Early Experiments (1830s-1840s): In the early 19th century, inventors such as Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Daguerre pioneered the development of photography. Niépce produced the first successful photograph, “View from the Window at Le Gras,” in 1826 using a camera obscura and bitumen-coated plates. Daguerre later introduced the daguerreotype process, which involved capturing images on silver-plated copper plates.

  2. The Calotype and Paper Negatives (1840s-1850s): William Henry Fox Talbot invented the calotype process in the 1840s, which utilized paper negatives and allowed multiple prints to be made from a single negative. This advancement made photography more accessible and contributed to the democratization of the medium.

  3. Wet Plate Collodion Process (1850s-1880s): Frederick Scott Archer introduced the wet plate collodion process in 1851, offering improved image quality and shorter exposure times compared to earlier methods. This technique involved coating glass plates with a light-sensitive emulsion and developing them immediately before use.

  4. Development of Photographic Printing Methods (1850s-1860s): Gustave Le Gray and others developed printing methods such as albumen prints and carbon prints, enhancing the reproducibility and tonal range of photographs. These processes laid the foundation for future printing techniques.

  5. Emergence of Photography Movements: In the late 19th century, photography saw the rise of various artistic movements that aimed to elevate it as a form of visual expression. Pictorialism, led by photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron and Alfred Stieglitz, emphasized photography’s aesthetic and artistic qualities.

  6. Introduction of Flexible Film (1880s-1890s): George Eastman revolutionized photography with the introduction of flexible film in the 1880s, enabling the development of handheld cameras. This marked the beginning of a new era, making photography more portable and accessible.

  7. Modernism and Straight Photography (1900s-1930s): Photographers such as Edward Weston, Paul Strand, and Ansel Adams embraced Modernism and the concept of “straight” photography, capturing unmanipulated, realistic images. They focused on form, composition, and the inherent qualities of the medium.

  8. Introduction of Color Photography (1930s-1940s): Color photography gained popularity in the 1930s with the introduction of films like Kodachrome and Agfacolor. This marked a significant milestone, allowing photographers to capture the world in vibrant hues.

  9. Digital Photography Revolution (1960s-present): The advent of digital photography in the 1960s laid the foundation for the digital revolution. The first digital camera, created by Steven Sasson at Kodak in 1975, paved the way for the development of consumer digital cameras and the widespread use of digital imaging.

  10. Contemporary Trends and Future Prospects: In recent years, advancements in smartphone camera technology, mirrorless cameras, and computational photography have further transformed the field. As we move forward, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and virtual reality hold the potential to reshape the boundaries of photography and redefine visual storytelling.


  1. The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present” by Beaumont Newhall
  2. A World History of Photography” by Naomi Rosenblum
  3. Photography: A Cultural History” by Mary Warner Marien
  4. The Concise Focal Encyclopedia of Photography” edited by Michael R. Peres
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© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

Week 9: History of Photography

Week 9: History of Photography

Duration: 3 hours

Lecture Outline:

  • Recap of previous week: Summarize the main points discussed in the ethics and copyright lecture and debate.
  • Introduction to the History of Photography:
    • Explain the importance of understanding the history of photography in developing a comprehensive understanding of the medium.
    • Provide an overview of the major photography movements and their significance in the development of the art form.
  • Pictorialism:
    • Discuss the Pictorialist movement and its emphasis on photography as a form of artistic expression.
    • Highlight notable Pictorialist photographers and their contributions to the field.
  • Modernism and Straight Photography:
    • Explore the emergence of Modernism and the Straight Photography movement.
    • Discuss key figures such as Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, and Edward Weston.
  • Surrealism and Photojournalism:
    • Introduce Surrealism and its influence on photography, particularly through the works of Man Ray and André Kertész.
    • Discuss the rise of photojournalism and the documentation of significant historical events.
  • Street Photography:
    • Examine the development of Street Photography as a distinct genre, with an emphasis on Henri Cartier-Bresson and Garry Winogrand.
    • Discuss the techniques, aesthetics, and social significance of Street Photography.
  • Conclude the lecture by emphasizing the interconnectedness of different photography movements and their impact on contemporary practices.

Discussion Topics:

  • Comparing and Contrasting Photography Movements:
    • Engage students in a discussion about the distinguishing characteristics, aesthetics, and ideologies of various photography movements.
    • Encourage critical thinking by exploring the influences and connections between different movements.
  • Significance of Historical Context:
    • Discuss the role of historical and cultural contexts in shaping photography movements and artists’ motivations.
    • Analyze how historical events and societal changes influenced the development of different photographic styles.
  • Relevance of Historical Photography Today:
    • Explore the continued influence of historical photography on contemporary practices and artistic expressions.
    • Discuss how contemporary photographers draw inspiration from and challenge the traditions established by earlier photographers.

Guest Lecture: Influential Photographers and Their Contributions:

  • Invite a guest lecturer who is an expert in the history of photography or a professional photographer with knowledge of significant photographers and movements.
  •  Request the guest lecturer to present a selection of influential photographers, their works, and their contributions to the medium.
  • Allocate time for questions and discussions with the guest lecturer, encouraging students to engage and deepen their understanding of the subject matter.

Reading Assignment

Note: Remind students to continue working on their ongoing assignments, including the research project on a contemporary photographer and the preparation for the photography exhibition. Encourage them to explore the works of photographers from different movements and reflect on the historical context that influenced their artistic choices.

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© Lauren McDonagh-Pereira Photography

My Plan

I will read the assigned reading, find YouTube videos that explain each of the concepts outlined in the Lesson Plan above, and I will answer each of the questions from my perspective as a short-answer posted to Twitter so that you can join in on the conversation. 

When I have completed these tasks I will post a link to my experience and resources here. 

Be sure to join the NFTWITHLAUREN.COM mailing list so that you can follow along with my progress. 


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Don’t miss this opportunity to elevate your course planning game and create transformative learning journeys.


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Lauren McDonagh-Pereira

More to explore

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MEET Lauren McDonagh-Pereira

Lauren McDonagh-Pereira is a photographer from Massachusetts, USA. She captures the beauty of the world around her, favoring Nikon cameras and lenses. She is drawn to shooting landscapes, wildlife, nature, and people authentically enjoying life.