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Advertisement from The Philadelphia Photographer Photograph of photography chemicals from 1871 Photography chemicals label
The first photographs being produced in Philadelphia were produced by amateurs. The explosion in the amateur movement really began in 1879 with the introduction of dry plate negatives -- gelatin negatives that didn't require constant supplies of water to keep them moist during exposure and development. Now with dry plates you can take the camera into the field, you can take the plates there, you can develop them days, months and even years later. This was all tested and reported in the press at the time. Cameras were made available at a very inexpensive cost to the new legions of amateurs that arose with the advance in the medium. W. DOUGLASS PASCHALL
Research Associate and Coordinator, Thomas Eakins Projects, Philadelphia Museum of Art
All the chemicals and apparatus used in developing dry plates are very cheap, and a small shelf in any closet will answer for a laboratory. Any room may be used as a dark room at night, because the plates after exposure can be developed at any time, provided they are kept in the dark. The faculty of taking the pictures and developing the plates can be easily acquired by any boy or girl in two or three lessons, and a person of ordinary intelligence can gain sufficient skill for all business purposes in a week's practice. From Scribner's Monthly
May 1881
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