Early Photography Infographic

I agree with Charlie – this infographic drove me crazy.

Once again, I’d only ever designed one infographic before this class, and it was for Professor Whalen’s Writing Through Digital Media class. It was on coffee consumption in the United States – how many people drink coffee, where it comes from, how much coffee the average person drinks, etc. I enjoyed working on it, and it was not difficult to find information on coffee consumption.

Early photography was an entirely different topic. While there is a fair amount of information available about early photography, it isn’t information that is easily conveyed graphically; it is mostly a collection of terms and dates instead of statistics. And I didn’t want to just do a timeline, because our last project had been a timeline, and that felt like cheating, somehow. And how do you talk about things like the calotype process, which isn’t commonly known about, without explaining what it is? A series of images might work, but I was limited by the fact that I couldn’t find any drawings that I could legally use under copyright, and my own drawing skills are minimal, and I’d never drawn anything on a computer.

As I struggled with layout and how to convey the information I wanted to graphically, I came to a realization. While infographics usually try to convey information visually to keep people from feeling underwhelmed, I couldn’t escape the fact that I had a lot of information which no way to convey it without text. Nor could I escape that the only real way I could think of to show off the information was in a timeline format. So I decided to try and make the piece feel more victorian, and as such, be more acceptably text heavy. After a quick google search, I found several examples of victorian pseudo-infographics that inspired my design.

Theory of the Seasons + Comparative Planetary Sizes Humboldt's Distribution of Plants in Equinoctial America, 1854

I pulled the victorian people from a fashion plate from the  late 1800s, and the images of the camera obscuras from a google patent. The two cameras in the background were part of an advertisement for a series of cameras from the early 1900s. However, I still couldn’t find any images I could legally use of the calotype process, or lithography, or even of the kodak brownie. So I decided to draw them. It was a rather long and involved process, which was made worse by the fact that I had never drawn anything on a computer before. But I am fairly well pleased with the end result.

This project was a definite learning process. It certainly (if unexpectedly) pushed me out of my comfort zone. But while the infographic/poster/thing still is a rather intimidating mess of text, hopefully it is still visually appealing enough that people will be intrigued enough to still look at it.

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