cewe cares

We are still here for you.

However, your order may take longer to reach you. Find out more information here.

World Photography Day – From Film to Photo Book…

Back to Blog

Our love of photography goes hand in hand with our commitment to delivering outstanding print quality. It’s simple – without precious memories, important events and the art of photography, we wouldn’t be the company we are today. Combining your creativity with our craftsmanship is the best way to share the photographs you’re the most proud of.

World Photography Day - girl with canon camera

To celebrate World Photography Day 2019, we’ve taken some time to appreciate the invention that changed the world. Let’s delve into the history of photography and take some time to be inspired by some of our favourite photographers.

A Glimpse Into Our History

CEWE is Europe’s number one photo printing company. Started by our founder H.C Heinz Neumüller, he led us from a small laboratory and trading company in Oldenburg to the pan-European company that stands strong today. In numbers, we have 14 high-tech production sites, 10 sales offices, almost 4,000 employees in 26 countries and supply over 20,000 trading partners throughout Europe.

man making cewe photo books

A Brief CEWE Timeline

In 1961, Heinz Neumüller founded CEWE COLOR. This was an exciting time as the transition from black and white to colour photography was just about to arrive in 1964. In 1965, the demand for colour photos dramatically increased, which led to the opening of our first purpose built photo lab in Oldenburg. Between 1971-1975, we expanded into the European market and merged with companies in Munich, Hamburg, Bremen, Nuremberg and Lübeck. Since then, we’ve become an impressive success story. Here are some highlights –

  • 1980 – The year of Photo Gifts! Due to advances in technology, it became possible to print imagery on new materials such as mugs or t-shirts.
  • 1994 – As a reaction from analogue to digital photography, CEWE printed digital photos on photo paper. We also invented Photo Index – a piece of software that allows you to upload numerous photos at once. This was the first digital mass-produced product ever.
  • 2002 – CEWE became the first company in the photographic industry to produce a calendar and a photo index with a digital printer
  • 2010 – We sold our 10 millionth CEWE PHOTOBOOK and launched our APP which won ‘Best Innovator 2010’.
  • 2012 – Using QR codes, video was integrated into the CEWE PHOTOBOOK
  • 2013 – Introduction of CEWE CARDS and CEWE WALL ART
  • 2014 – 30 millionth CEWE PHOTO BOOK sold!

CEWE Today

cewe photo book example

Today, we’re dedicated to helping photo enthusiasts share their work at its absolute best. We produce personalised photo products from beautiful Wall Art to our beloved CEWE PHOTOBOOK in our state-of-the-art production facility right here in Warwick.

With our expertise in printing, we create high quality photo calendars and impressive photo prints. We also offer a wide variety of photo gifts including toys and games, mugs, clothing and gifts for the home or office.

The History of Photography

So, where did it all begin? The answer is – the 18th century.

In 1717, Johann Heinrich Schulze ‘captured cut-out letters on a bottle of a light-sensitive slurry’ but wasn’t quite able to make the results permanent. The first reliable discovery was documented in 1800 by Thomas Wedgwood. He made the first, although unsuccessful, attempt to capture camera images in permanent form but did continue to produce detailed photograms.

In the mid-1820s, Nicéphore Niépce managed to fix an image that was captured with a camera, but this unfortunately took ‘at least eight hours or even several days of exposure in the camera’. His efforts were not in vain as his associate Louis Daguerre developed the daguerreotype process, which became the first public and commercially viable photographic process. The details were introduced as a gift to the world in 1839 – a date generally accepted as the birth year of practical photography.

old photos

As it was such a monumental discovery, this process quickly attracted competition! The paper-based calotype negative and salt print invented by William Henry Fox Talbot offered new photographic materials and a streamlined, quicker camera exposure. This new innovation created a photographic media that was economical, convenient and able to be used by amateurs and professionals alike. Photography had excited the mass market and started to spread like wildfire…

Between 1884 and 1924, the camera went into production at the Leitz factory in Germany. It was called the Leica from the initials of Leitz Camera. 

The Wonder of Colour Printing

With this incredible advancement in technology, the public quickly wanted more. This is where we started to see artists hand paint colour into their monochrome images. Even at its very best, this was a rudimentary and primitive means of introducing colour into photography…. until 1861. Inspired by the earlier works of Sir Isaac Newton on colour spectrum’s, Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell, conducted an experiment to show that, all colours can be made by an appropriate mixture of red, green and blue light. Work evolved in 1907 through discoveries by The Lumière brothers, Auguste and Louis, who championed Lumiere Autochrome. Lumière Autochrome was a “mosaic screen plate” process where a ‘glass plate is coated on one side with a mosaic of red-orange, green, and blue-violet dyed grains of potato starch as color filters, underneath a layer of silver halide emulsion‘.  This was regarded as the first practical colour photographic process. In 1935, two Americans, L . Mannes and L . Godowsky, improved this process. Bought by Kodak, it was named Kodachrome.

picture within a picture

Modern Day Photography

Since moving image and film came to prevail in the 1920’s and 30’s, photography has progressed in leaps and bounds. During the First and Second World Wars, reportage photography was used to challenge perceptions. Over the years this style developed to become photo journalism.

By the late 1940s, 35mm film became cheap enough for the masses to consume. In the 1950s, Asahi (which later became Pentax) introduced the Asahiflex and Nikon introduced the Nikon F camera. These were both SLR-type cameras and the Nikon F allowed for interchangeable lenses and other accessories.

group of tourists taking photos and selfies

For the next 30 years, SLR-style cameras remained the camera of choice. Due to this overwhelming popularity, many improvements were introduced to these cameras and the film that they used. Compact cameras in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s made it even easier to take photographs and created the ‘point and shoot’ mentality that we have today. By 1991, Kodak had produced the first digital camera that was advanced enough to be used successfully by professionals. Today, many manufacturers offer advanced digital SLR (DSLR) cameras that originate from this technology.

In 2007, the number of digital images developed (1,515 million) officially exceeded the number of photos developed by films for the first time (1,277 million)

The rise of digital imaging technology saw the introduction of smartphones in 1992. It was called the Simon Personal Communicator, and it was created by IBM more than 15 years before Apple released the iPhone. As they say, the rest is history….

A Closing Word From Our Professionals

After 200 years of evolution, photography has one root – emotion. To pay homage to this, we asked some of our favourite photographers to sum up what photography means to them.

Russ at splashpointphoto – Underwater, Pool, Pin Up, Studio & Boudoir

Russ is a an exhibited, awarded and published photographer who loves quirky portraiture with bespoke touches. You will find him on the competition circuit, capturing ranked and commended images and/ or working with models.

girl doing ballet in dirty room

“Photography is my creative outlet, and at the risk of being cheesy, it’s my world. It’s what I tend to worry about, wake up and go to sleep thinking of.  I went from being a frustrated songwriter, a drummer (aka the rhythm guy in a band with little input!) to becoming the author of my own solo projects behind the lens. And while it’s never truly a solo venture, that freedom to create stops with me. Plus, it has forced me to meet cool and relatable new people. As an introvert, I’m usually content in my own company and they understand true friendships don’t need mothering too. Photography has undoubtedly opened me up in that respect as well.”

Kiran Cox – Street, Documentary, Lifestyle & Portraiture

Kiran is a photographer based in West London with a passion for street, documentary, lifestyle and portraiture photography. His aim is to explore and document life around him through the art of photography. 

girl on a bus in head scarf

“Photography to me means everything. Being able to create and express my art every day is something that I cherish.”

Tara at Pudding and Plum Photography – Wedding Photography

Tara is a Midlands based wedding photographer that loves to shoot fun and creative weddings. From capturing all the fun, giggles and love at a wedding to quiet, tender moments too, Tara loves engaging with it all.

wedding inspiration photo, bride and groom chatting

“One of the most satisfying things in photography is when another person falls in love with the way you saw something – or someone. I guess that’s a big reason I love wedding photography because often people don’t realise just how much beauty shines out from their love and happiness. It’s a wonderful way to connect and communicate.”


Wherever technology takes us, enjoy the sanctity of holding your memories in the palm of your hand. Have you been inspired by World Photography Day and want to showcase your favourite photographs? Whether its a portfolio of your best work or a family photo album, preserve your memories for years to come with your very own CEWE PHOTOBOOK.

cewe photo book in presentation box

Drawing on our 50 years of printing experience, our photo book has been voted the best in the world by the experts at TIPA. It is Europe’s number one photo book, with more than 50 million copies sold (and counting!)

Was this article helpful?

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply