Photography refers to the process or practice of creating a photograph – an image produced by the action of light on a light-sensitive material

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  • Francesca Woodman, 'Space², Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978' 1975-8

    Francesca Woodman
    Space, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978 1975-8
    Black and white silver gelatin print on paper
    image: 140 x 140 mm
    ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 The estate of Francesca Woodman

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  • Thomas Struth, 'The Late Giles Robertson (with Book), Edinburgh 1987' 1987

    Thomas Struth
    The Late Giles Robertson (with Book), Edinburgh 1987 1987
    Photograph on paper
    image: 439 x 579 mm
    Purchased 1995 Thomas Struth

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  • Gilbert & George, 'Existers' 1984

    Gilbert & George
    Existers 1984
    object: 2410 x 3510 mm
    ARTIST ROOMS Acquired jointly with the National Galleries of Scotland through The d'Offay Donation with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2008 Gilbert & George

    View the main page for this artwork

A photograph can be either a positive or negative image and made using one of many processes. 

Most photographs are created using a camera, which uses a lens to focus the scene’s visible wavelengths of light into a reproduction of what the human eye would see.

Non-digital photographs are produced using a two-step chemical process: light-sensitive film captures a negative image (colors and lights/darks are inverted) from which a positive image can be made by transferring the negative onto photographic paper (printing).

The advent of digital photography has led to the rise of digital prints. These prints are created from stored graphic formats such as JPEG, TIFF, and RAW. These can then be printed out using printers including inkjet printers, dye-sublimation printer, laser printers, and thermal printers. Inkjet prints are sometimes called ‘giclée’.

The process and practice of creating photographs is called photography. The word photograph was coined in 1839 by Sir John Herschel and is based on the Greek word ‘phos’, meaning ‘light’, and ‘graphê’, meaning ‘drawing’ – so ‘drawing with light.