Photography is the most varied of pictorial techniques, ranging from daguerreotypes and silver gelatin prints, to large scale back-lit transparencies and building-size murals, to digital images and ink jet prints.
Since its invention in 1839, the photograph has been used as an instrument for scientific research, historical documentation and journalism, as well as artistic expression.
As an art form, it has had a profound influence on other media, functioning as an aide-mémoire for painters and sculptors, as a catalyst for the development of abstraction, and as inspiration for the cubists, who borrowed forms from aerial photography and x-rays.
The influence of photography on contemporary culture cannot be overstated; humanity has become ever more dependent on, and demanding of, images. Digital photography is now a universal, daily, even hourly pastime, a standard medium for both mass and private communication.