Think Snapchat’s IPO Caused A Stir? These Are the 10 Most Controversial Moments in the History of Photography

An IPO from Snapchat, the photo-sharing app, has caused a major stir. But it’s far from the first time photography has been controversial.

Snap Inc., better known as Snapchat, which recently launched an IPO valued at a staggering $30 billion, has started calling itself a “camera company.” “The camera is the core,” a Snap investor told Vanity Fair. “It used to be that photos were only used to make memories. Now, the camera is being used for a lot more, and for communication in particular.”

As the dust from the Snapchat IPO settles, analysts are scrambling to determine if the “camera company” is a passing fancy or the future. But then, when the daguerreotype—the proto-photo—was first popularized in 1839, French critic Charles Baudelaire railed against the form, calling it “deplorable.” And in the 178 years since its invention, the camera—and photographers—have courted controversy and headlines in equal measure.

Here are the 10 most controversial moments in the history of the camera:

Death on Camera: Mathew Brady’s Civil War Photographs

Dead Confederate soldiers near Dunker Church following the Battle of Antietam. Photograph by Alexander Gardner

In 1862, at the height of the Civil War, photographer Mathew Brady—whose 1864 portrait of Abraham Lincoln is visible on the $5 bill—organized an exhibition in his New York studio called “The Dead of Antietam.” For the first time, Americans saw images, primarily taken by Brady staffer Alexander Gardner, of the soldiers killed and maimed on the battlefield; the results were shocking. “Mr. Brady has done something to bring home to us the terrible reality and earnestness of war,” wrote The New York Times in October 20, 1862. “If he has not brought bodies and laid them in our dooryards and along the streets, he has done something very like it.”While Brady was not the first war photographer—Roger Fenton of Great Britain and Carol Szathmari of Austria-Hungary captured images…

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