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Home /Science / Meet Your Vintage Photo Formats

Meet Your Vintage Photo Formats

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By Christian Roemer

Before photos were digital and zoomed across the clogged lanes of the information superhighway, pictures came printed on things. Even though most old photos looked similar, there were actually more differences than you might think. 


From the invention of photography in the 1800s to today, we’ve had a bunch of different picture types. Let’s take a trip through time to see what photos used to be like before cell phones and digital cameras changed everything.

 

Daguerreotypes 

Daguerreotypes were some of the first photos ever made. The process for creating these images was wild! Basically, you had to polish a silver plate and cover it with a bunch of chemicals. Then the camera needed a few minutes of exposure to make the photo came out clear. It’s no wonder people looked so mad when they were taking pictures back in the day! They were probably just tired from sitting still for so long!

 

Film

Film really changed the game. Film is made out of a material called celluloid and a bunch of chemicals. Film takes a way shorter exposure time to capture than Daguerreotypes -- most of the time only fractions of seconds! Film was the go-to type of photography for about a hundred years. It was a convenient, fast, and efficient way to take a bunch of photos. Because the film came in reels, you didn’t even have to know anything about developing it yourself!

 

Polaroids 

Polaroids are probably my favorite type of picture. The cameras looked kind of goofy. They were bulky and had a big open slot at the bottom of them. The reason was because you could snap a photo, and the camera would spit out a picture instantly! You’d wave the photo around a little bit, and a couple of minutes later, you had a fully-functioning picture -- no development required! They were awesome! In the 90s, they even had mini polaroid cameras that took sticker pictures. They were all the rage in 7th grade!

 

Slides 

If you’ve read any of my blogs, you’ll know that I have a deep disagreement with the idea of slides. They’re just so pointless! But just because I don’t like them personally doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. Slides are little transparent photos that go into a projector. You turn on the projector and magnify the photos on a blank wall. The idea of slides is cool, but the execution leaves much to be desired.

 

Negatives 

I’ll catch a lot of flak for putting negatives here, since they’re basically the same thing as film. That’s OK. Complain away. I feel like negatives deserve their own inclusion on the list because they’re pretty neat. Did you know that you can use negatives to make copies of your old pictures? You can also use them to make enlarged photos. Lastly, you can even digitize them! Isn’t that awesome?


Since photography was invented, there have been a bunch of different formats. I didn’t list them all here, but these are the big hitters. If you have any of these types of photos sitting around collecting dust, send them over to Southtree and let us digitize them! We make it super simple. Whether you’re sitting on a shoebox of polaroids or a refrigerator-sized container of slides, we can make them digital.


Like they say, computers are the wave of the future.

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