History Of Erotica (Part 3): Photography

The camera lens had its own unique impact on Erotica.

In particular, pioneering Photographer Louis Daguerre developed a technique for producing what became known as daguerreotypes which were photographic prints with more lasting detail and quality.

Photographers quickly used this new technique in nude photography, developing the depiction of the female form from the idealised painted version of the renaissance to the grittier and more naturalistic portrayal photography allowed.

Although daguerreotypes enabled Pornography to break new ground, they were costly and time-consuming to produce.

As a result, they could not be made available on a mass scale.

This problem was solved by the development of the Calotype procedure which produced Photographs from a negative print.

This process was cheaper and more accessible, and this enabled the mass distribution of Erotic photographs from the 1840s onwards.  

In 1880, halftone printing arrived which made it easy to print photos in black and white.

Due to the lower costs involved, halftone printing propelled pornography into the mass market where the technique was used to print the first Porn Magazines.

In the 1940s “pinups” arrived with an initial focus on legs, followed by breasts in the 50s introducing pinup legends like Marilyn Monroe, one of the world’s first popular pin up girls. 

Magazines like Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Magazines and Penthouse, soon followed revolutionising the medium of Erotic Photography by implementing pioneering aesthetic techniques in their erotic depictions.

Penthouse was also the first magazine to show pubic hair and full frontal nudity.

In the late 1960s, magazines became more explicit by focusing on the buttocks.

By the 1970s, the gaze had been turned to the crotch area, and by the 1990s Hardcore magazines like Hustler were showing all types of erotic situations ranging from fetishes, sexual penetration, same sex intercourse, orgies and masturbation. 

In the final analysis, its safe to safe to say, Photography birthed Pornography as we understand it in its modern form.

Nevertheless, Video technology would also see Pornography exploring new territory including a brief stint as legitimate Cinema until VHS videotape technology allowed it to penetrate the privacy of the individual home.

Check out Part1, Part 2 and Part 4 on the History of Erotica as well as the discussion on the Porn Agenda and social effects of modern Porn.

We’ve also included some vintage Erotic photos ands Episode 4 of Pornography: The Secret History Of Civilization on the impact of Photography on Porn.