Photography is the art, application, and practice of creating durable images by recording light, either electronically by means of an image sensor, or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film. It is employed in many fields of science, manufacturing (e.g., photolithography), and business, as well as its more direct uses for art, film and video production, recreational purposes, hobby, and mass communication.

Photography is the result of combining several technical discoveries, relating to seeing an image and capturing the image. The discovery of the camera obscura (“dark chamber” in Latin) that provides an image of a scene dates back to ancient China. Greek mathematicians Aristotle and Euclid independently described a camera obscura in the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. In the 6th century CE, Byzantine mathematician Anthemius of Tralles used a type of camera obscura in his experiments. The Arab physicist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) (965–1040) also invented a camera obscura as well as the first true pinhole camera.

The first permanent photographs were created in the early 19th century by Joseph Nicephore Niepce and Louis Daguerre. Niepce used a pewter plate coated with bitumen to create his photographs, while Daguerre used a silver-plated copper plate coated with iodine. These early photographs were very slow to create, and they could only be viewed in the dark.

In the mid-19th century, the invention of the wet plate collodion process made photography much faster and more accessible. This process used a glass plate coated with a light-sensitive emulsion of collodion and silver nitrate. Wet plate collodion photographs could be viewed in the light, and they could be produced in a matter of minutes.

In the late 19th century, the invention of the dry plate gelatin process made photography even faster and more convenient. This process used a glass plate coated with a light-sensitive emulsion of gelatin and silver halide. Dry plate gelatin photographs could be produced in a matter of seconds, and they did not require the use of a darkroom.

In the 20th century, the invention of the film camera made photography even more portable and accessible. Film cameras use a roll of light-sensitive film to capture images. Film cameras can be used in a variety of different settings, and they are relatively inexpensive to operate.

In the 21st century, the invention of the digital camera has revolutionized photography. Digital cameras use an image sensor to capture images. Image sensors are much more sensitive to light than film, and they can capture images in a wide range of conditions. Digital cameras also allow photographers to view and edit their images immediately after they are taken.

Photography is a versatile art form that can be used to capture a wide range of subjects and emotions. It can be used to document history, to create art, to tell stories, and to simply capture moments in time. Photography is a powerful tool that can be used to communicate and to share our world with others.