Instantaneous Photography – Freezing motion in the 19th century [EN]

Christian Klant


Even though early photography evolved at an impressive rate, the actual exposure times were very slow. Starting with hours, dropping down to minutes and thanks to the increasing sensitivity of the wet-plate collodion process, exposure times finally decreased to fractions of seconds.

An increasing number of photographers (many of them former painters) started experimenting with chemical and technical elements to freeze motion with the use of photography. The rise of an instantaneous photographic movement was an exciting adventure for both photographers and viewers of this new medium. The reactions to the first street scenes or breaking waves must have been deeply impressive. It was the skilful work and the visionary mind of Eadweard Muybridge who took instantaneous photography to the next level by capturing a horse in full gallop.


Christian Klant is demonstrating technical strategies for instantaneous photographers using daguerreotypes and wet plate collodion as processes of choice. Major milestones are interpreted by showing various examples from the 1840s to the 1870s.


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