Celebrating the birth of Anna Atkins, the first woman photographer

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First woman photographer, Anna Atkins
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Celebrating the birth of Anna Atkins, the first woman photographer
 The title page from 'Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions', made by Anna Atkins (1799-1871). Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions', a collection of cyanotype photograms of algae, was self-published in installments over ten years from 1843. This first installment is credited as the first photographically illustrated book. The cyanotype process was invented by Sir John Herschel (1792-1871) in 1842 and derived from his observations on the light sensitivity of iron salts. The brilliant blue colour of the resulting prints gives the process its more common name - the blueprint. The process was used for many years to duplicate engineers' drawings. (Photo by Science & Society Picture Library/SSPL/Getty Images)
 Cyanotype of Ceylonese ferns, 1853. Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799-1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by Science & Society Picture Library/SSPL/Getty Images)
 Cyanotype of British fern, 1853. Cyanotype of British fern, 1853. Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by Science & Society Picture Library/SSPL/Getty Images)
 Cyanotype of British fern, 1853. Cyanotype of British fern, 1853. Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by Science & Society Picture Library/SSPL/Getty Images)
Cyanotype of British fern, 1853. Cyanotype of British fern, 1853. Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by Science & Society Picture Library/SSPL/Getty Images)
 Cyanotype of British fern, 1853. Cyanotype of British fern, 1853. Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by Science & Society Picture Library/SSPL/Getty Images)
 Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
 Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
 Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
 Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799-1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
 Cyanotype of British fern, 1853. Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
 Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
 Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
 Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799- 1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
 Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799-1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
 Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799-1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
From the Great Conservatory, Chatsworth, August 26th 1851. Taken from an album of ferns published in 1853 for presentation to CSA by Anna Atkins, a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799-1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
This cyanotype is taken from a book of ferns published in 1853 by Anna Atkins (1799-1871), a pioneering figure in photography, and her friend, Anne Dixon (1799-1864). Atkins is credited with having produced the first book to use photographic illustrations. The 'blueprint' process used to make the image employs ferric salts to produce a light sensitive solution coated onto a sheet of paper. After exposure it is permanently fixed by washing in plain water. The image is white on a blue background, and is highly durable and stable. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
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By LISA KIRSHNER

Two-hundred and sixteen years ago on March 16, 1799, the first female photographer Anna Atkins was born in Tonbridge, Kent, to a scientist and his wife according to the Washington Post.

Atkins would become the first female photographer -- paving the way for many greats: Mary Steen, Dorthea Lange and Sally Mann to name a few. Atkins learned her craft from the photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot, a chemist who figured out how to use light sensitive paper to create photographic drawings. Talbot's images were primarily imprints of objects left on the paper and subsequently exposed to sunlight, according to the Washington Post.

Atkins used early blueprint paper called cyanotypes, created by Sir John Herschel, to print her photos of plant life. Cyanotypes are created by using an iron-based chemical method that also uses sunlight to create blue images.

She was also the first to create a book illustrated with photographs, according to TIME magazine.

Above you can view a selection of her images from her three volumes of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions

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