Since the invention of photography, pictures have come in many different formats. There’s also a good chance that you or your parents have old photo albums full of different picture formats, maybe even a shoebox full of negatives, if your mom was as adamant about keeping them as mine was.
So, if you’re wondering what types of photos you may have or are just curious about the various formats that are out there, let’s dust off the old photo album of history and take a trip down memory lane.
Nearly 200 years ago, back in 1826-27ish, French inventor, Joseph Nicephore Niepce shot the first official “photograph.” Over the years and thus centuries, photography has greatly evolved with things like gelatin silver print becoming popular in the 1870s and glass negatives being replaced by film negatives in the early 20th century, just to name a couple of many. But while the process has improved and innovated beyond our wildest imagination, developing print photography is still an underappreciated art form to this day.
You know those tiny little brown strips of film that would come packaged with your developed prints? Those are called negatives, and they’re actually more important than the developed pictures themselves because without them, there would be no print to develop. So, if you find yourself with a box full of salvaged negatives without any developed prints in sight – don’t fret, you’re in luck! Those negatives can still be developed and who knows what kinds of history you’ll uncover. Furthermore, those negatives can also be digitized, so you don’t have to worry about the whole film development process. Think of it as future-proofing your memories for the 21st century.
Introduced in the 1930s, 35 film quickly became the go-to format for film and slide projectors. Hitting peak prominence in the 1960s, slide projectors and 35 mm slides were incredibly popular in academic facilities (think grade school science class) and among amateur photographers. You might not know it, but there are a bevy of 35 mm slide formats and sizes, including standard 35 mm, half frame 35 mm, 126 slide, 127 slide, 127 superslide and 110 slides. If you, your parents or your grandparents had a slide projector, see if you can’t ask about getting your hands on some of their vintage 35 mm slides. They likely won’t have a working projector, but they might have kept the slides.
In 1948, the first Polaroid camera was released to the public via a department store in Boston. The reason this was such a monumental innovation to the film industry was because people didn't’ have to shoot their entire film roll and then wait in development purgatory to be able to see their snaps. Instead, photographers could get an instant glimpse (well, a few shakes and a couple minutes later) of whatever they just shot. It was instant gratification (or as close to) at its finest.
It may be hard to believe, but digital photography as we know it began in the early 1950s. By 1957, the first digital photo was produced through an early computer by Russell Kirsch. The picture was a black and white image of his son. Fast forward about 40 years, and digital photography is as synonymous with photography as print photos, maybe even more so. After all, digital photography is what we shoot and share on our smartphones on a daily basis. It's an intrinsic part of our society (and our social media presence) as we know it and the quality and possibilities are only getting better.
Got a photo. Get it digitized.
Whatever type of photo on this list you may have, now is the perfect time to get it digitized. Why? Because your old prints, negatives, polaroids and slides are all deteriorating with time. Old photo prints are yellowing and fading with time, and if your negatives and photo lot haven’t been stored correctly (like not in your humid basement or hot attic), then there’s a good chance they may already be lost. So, don’t wait to digitize your photos or you may lose out on all those precious memories. And nobody, especially us, wants that.