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Photography and Modernity in the Ottoman Empire 1840-1914

The daguerreotype, the first practical method used in photography, was invented by the Parisian painter Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1839; the calotype, consisting of a positive print obtained from the negative captured by a camera obscura, was developed by the British Henry Fox Talbot. As the British Frederick Scott Archer’s wet-plate collodion method started to spread, the daguerreotype and calotype processes fell into disuse by the late 1850s. Professional studio and landscape photography reached a peak in the 1860s and 1870s. From the early 1880s on, the emergence of mass-produced, readily-prepared dry plate glass negatives and relatively affordable handheld cameras caused professional photography to lose its commercial edge, as carefully crafted photographs made way for images shot by amateurs. Istanbul holds a significant place in the history of world photography due to both the passage of many itinerant photographers and to its numerous studios active for decades.  Documenting the last years of the empire, the 1921 trade directory for Istanbul listed no less than 32 companies under the section of “Photographers.”