Concept of Photography

The Concept of Photography – Myths and Legends

For the idea of photography we can explore a surprising number of instances recorded in history and legend from about 1000 BC concerning a Chinese Emperor who claimed to have owned a picture of an Ox in which the Ox would disappear in the daylight but return again at night.

Another Chinese legend credits the sun with producing images in the ice-covered surfaces of lakes and rivers. Victorian photographer David Winstanley did not consider this tale to be a legend, but a statement of fact. He had not only witnessed such ice‑images himself, while wintering in Wisconsin in 1864, but also conducted experiments in the production of pictures by the action of cold. He termed this process “frigerography”.

There were other stories and legends from many countries, but the most quoted fictional account of the idea of a photographic process is Giphantie, composed by Tiphaigne De La Roche published in1760. The text contains a detailed description of a process remarkably like photography, even to the suggestion of a latent image.