The Portrait Path (ca. 1830s–1890s)

  • Risto SarvasEmail author
  • David M. Frohlich
Part of the Computer Supported Cooperative Work book series (CSCW)


In the first decades of the nineteenth century the invention of photography involved low-hanging fruit. There was existing demand in the growing middle classes for affordable ‘likenesses’ (i.e., portrait pictures), a practice well established in that stratum of society. The camera obscura, technology known for centuries, could render a more detailed image than any painting or carving and without apparent effort. Also, the light-sensitive nature of silver salts (silver nitrate and silver chloride) was widely known among contemporary practitioners. All that was needed was a way to permanently record the camera obscura’s image in order to produce likenesses for an existing market.


Metal Plate Head Start Silver Salt Social Networking Service Public Figure 
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Copyright information

© Springer London 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIITAalto UniversityHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Digital World Research CentreUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK

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