Celebrating the birth of Anna Atkins, the first woman photographer

Celebrating the birth of Anna Atkins, the first woman photographer
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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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