Bajac, Quentin. The Invention of Photography: The First Fifty Years. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2002. This is an inexpensive, excellent and profusely illustrated introduction to the subject, written by the recently appointed (2013) chief curator of photography at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Barger, M. Susan and White, William B. The Daguerreotype: Nineteenth Century Technology and Modern Science. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991. This comprehensive historical and technical work includes much of great value for photo-conservators.
Batchen, Geoffrey. Burning with Desire. The Conception of Photography. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 1997. The author embraces the wide ranging, western cultural desire for the emergence of photography and moves on to criticisms, including post-modernist.
Brettell, Richard R., with Flukinger, Roy; Keeler, Nancy, and Kilgore, Sydney Mallett. Paper and Light: The Calotype in France and Great Britain, 1839–1870. Boston, MA, USA and London, UK: David R. Godine, Publisher, Inc. and Kudos & Godine, 1984. A major survey on the calotype and its influence in photographic history with short, well-illustrated, biographies of some 40 of its practitioners.
Coke, Van Deren. One Hundred Years of Photographic History: Essays in honor of Beaumont Newhall. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1975. A wonderful collection of essays ‘…useful and enjoyable to all readers interested in the growth and the art and science of photography.’
Crawford, William. The Keepers of Light: A History & Working Guide to Early Photographic Processes. New York: Morgan & Morgen, 1979. For many years this book was a standard source book for photograph collectors and text book for practitioners.
Eder, Joseph Maria. [Trans. Edward Epstean] History of Photography. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1978. [Original publication by Columbia University Press, 1945.] An extraordinary achievement, this is commonly acknowledged as the definitive technical history of photography.
Galassi, Peter.Before Photography: Painting and the Invention of Photography. New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 1981. A book accompanying a travelling exhibition, Galassi writes ‘… the medium was not a bastard left by science on the doorstep by science, but a legitimate child of the Western pictorial tradition.’
Gernsheim, Helmut and Alison. L. J. M. Daguerre: The History of the Diorama and the Daguerreotype. London: Secker & Warburg, 1956. The Gernsheims, both photographic historians, took 20 years to research this monumental history which remains high in the order of source books.
Harmant, Pierre. “Anno Lucis 1839: 1st part.” Camera No. 5 (May 1977). Harmant was the first to list the many names of those who claimed to have been photography’s first inventor.
Ivins, William M. Jr. Prints and Visual Communication. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited, 1953. In his history of how to make exactly repeatable pictorial statements, the photograph is revealed in his chapter on ‘Pictorial statement without syntax’.
Lenman, Robin [Ed.] The Oxford Companion to the Photograph. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. OUP has brought together outstanding contributors to produce this definitive reference for photographers, students of art history and those interested in social history over the last 150 years.
Newhall, Beaumont. Photography: Essays & Images: Illustrated Readings in the History of Photography. London: Secker & Warburg, 1981. A truly wonderful collection of essays by photographers and critics including the essay written by Lady Elizabeth Eastlake in 1857.
Peres, Michael R. [Ed.] Focal Encyclopedia of Photography: Digital Imaging, Theory and Applications, History, and Science. 4th edition. Burlington, MA, USA and Oxford, UK: Focal Press, 2007. A weighty tome (with CD) of scholarly contributions across a vast field of subjects throughout the entire history of photography.
Reilly, James M. The Albumen and Salted Paper Book: The History and Practice of Photographic Printing, 1840–1895. Rochester, New York: Light Impressions, 1980. The book was the outcome of the author’s doctoral thesis and offers a comprehensive guide to these processes.
Schaaf, Larry. Sun Gardens: Victorian Photographs by Anna Atkins. New York: Aperture, 1985. This scholarly, beautifully illustrated book celebrates the first female photographer who started publishing photographic illustrations in 1843.
Scharf, Aaron. Pioneers of Photography. An Album of Pictures and Words written and compiled by Aaron Scharf. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1976. The author advised the BBC on series of TV programmes on the subject and this book followed.
Schwarz, Heinrich. Selected Essays edited by William E. Parker. Art and Photography: Forerunners and Influences. Rochester, New York: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1985. Schwarz makes a significant contribution in the debate about the place of photography in the Western artistic tradition.
Seiberling, Grace with Bloore, Carolyn. Amateurs, Photography and the Mid-Victorian Imagination. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1986. [In association with the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House] Well researched and shedding additional light on some early Norfolk photographs and photographers.
Towler, J. The Silver Sunbeam: A Practical and Theoretical Text Book on Sun Drawing and Photographic Printing: Comprehending all the Wet and Dry Processes with Collodion, Albumen, Gelatine, Wax, Resin, and Silver. etc., etc.. New York: Joseph H. Ladd, 1864. A highly regarded practical book of the period.
Taylor, Roger. Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives 1840–1860. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007. This outstanding, beautifully illustrated work is the result of wide ranging research over many years. A history with a biographical dictionary of British calotypists.
Ware, Mike. Gold in Photography: The History and Art of the Chrysotype. Brighton: ffotofilm publishing, 2006. Scientist and photo-artist Mike Ware is an independent consultant who has established alternative photographic processes, including the re-invention of the chrysotype, by the creative use of modern chemistry.
Werge, John. The Evolution of Photography: With a Chronological Record of Discoveries, Inventions, etc…. London: Piper & Carter; John Werge, 1890. An idiosyncratic work based on personal reminiscences extending over 40 years. It offers insights in a way which few photographic histories do.
Finally, you’ll find an instructive website on the collodion process at