Photography was introduced at the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign. The first image, a landscape, was produced by Frenchman Nicėphore Niépce in 1826 but it required a few days of exposure. In 1835, Niépce and L J M Dauerre were successful in producing a daguerreotype photograph. This process involved fixing an image on a silvered copper plate. The image was inverted, was very fragile and couldn’t be copied but could be achieved in about 15 minutes. Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot had also been working on producing images and he patented a calotype process in 1841. This process used paper coated with silver iodide and produced a negative image which could be copied. Its ability to have multiple copies was to lead to its popularity over the daguerreotype process.

Photo of woman in a Whitby jet locket

Photography was used to capture landscapes, scenes of working life, travel in other countries, war field action and well-known people, like Queen Victoria in 1860 and Abraham Lincoln, also in 1860. And photographs were also taken of people. At the beginning, only wealthy people, could afford to have a photograph taken, but as the century progressed, the growing middle class could access the process as well. By 1861, Britain had over 2,000 full-time photographers (

Photo of a woman and child in a double sided gold locket

In the first two decades after the introduction of photography, images were only produced in black and white. Photos began to be retouched and made into ‘colour’ by using watercolours. Some of those artists involved in this where former miniaturists. While it only took another two decades before the first colour photographs emerged, again, they were expensive and required special equipment, resources and skill so monochrome photos remained the norm until just before the end of the century. And, of course, those photos were placed inside lockets as keepsakes, just as the painted miniatures had been.

Antique gold locket with over painted photo

An excellent timeline of the introduction of photography can be located here: