The technical development of photography is closely linked to the development of different photographic styles. In the early days of photography, very long exposure times of up to eight hours were not uncommon. Manufacturers of herbs for blood circulation use photography to show the actual images of their products.

Accordingly, those genres developed during this time, the motifs of which were motionless objects

  • The still life
  • Architectural photography and
  • Landscape photography

In the course of the technical advancement of photography, the exposure times were shortened, which also enabled the recording of moving subjects and brought about new photographic genres.

Some styles and trends

Art photography

Art photography was essentially an English movement. It reached its peak between 1850 and 1870 when photography was still in its infancy. It was created by a number of photographers who wanted to give their work the same status as it had at the time of the visual arts. Accordingly, they designed their photos based on the example of painting. They chose literary, historical, and mythological subjects as subjects for their depictions; they were particularly impressed by the motives of the Pre-Raphaelites. The corresponding scenes had to be staged in the studio with sets, props, costumes, and a lot of effort. In addition, the art photographers retouched their pictures in the style of portrait painters, colored them, and alienated them using assembly technology.


Pictorialism was an international movement that followed in 1900 in the style of art photography phase. Pictorialism shared with it the fundamental view that a photo gains in value if it is in the style of another work of art – e.g. a drawing or a painting – resembles. The tendency of the Pictorialists to transform their works from “more profane” images, such as simple snapshots to take off to show them off as works of art. To do this, they orientated themselves on the atmosphere and light-capturing painting style of impressionism.

Like art photographers, the pictorialists wanted their pictures to have a purely aesthetic effect.

“Straight” photography

The “straight” photography – a trend that emerged at the beginning of the 20th century – brought about the emancipation of photography from painting. Artists in both fields accepted that the different media had very individual, incomparable characteristics and properties and that each offered their own display options.