As studied about in our graphic design book. Until the arrival of photography the process of making pictorial images, and preparing printing plates to produce them had been handwork. For centuries the camera obscura was used by artist as an aid for drawing. In 1822, Joseph Niepce produced the first photographic image from a plate that was created by the photochemical action of light rather than by the human hand. In 1871, John Calvin Moss pioneered a commercially feasible photoengraving method for translating line artwork into metal letterpress plates. A negative of the original illustration was made on a copy camera.
The documentary reality of photography helped illustrators to capture current events. The first photomechanical color illustrations were printed in 1881. The photographic process reduced the time from art to printing plate to one or two hours and greatly reduced costs. Before this the printing process would take up to a week.
When inventors were expanding photography’s technical boundaries, artists and adventures were exploring its image-making potential. A lively contribution to photography was made by F.T. Nadar. His portraits of writers, actors, and artists provide an invaluable historical record. After the Civil War, photography became an important documentary and communications tool in the exploration of new territory and the opening of the American West.
With the medium of photography rapidly expanding developments in the traditional visual arts changed. Most people embraced the new technology, but religious zealots claimed that it was the work of the devil. Many artists found it a threat to their livelihood. Some artists turned to photography and even used it to assist them in their paintings.