1. What are the main differences and similarities between portraits in the early days of photography and portraits today?
The main difference between portraits now and portraits in the early days of photography are mainly quality, time and clarity. Portraits from the early days were usually in black and white or sepia. As technology advances it is more common to see pictures that are fully colored. In the early days it was common to have a camera obscura either installed in your home, or portable. Also it was very common to see a person standing in an area for a long period of time waiting for a picture to be taken, whereas today it takes just seconds for a photo to be taken. In the early days it was also very hard to see what was in the background of a photograph because of the graininess because of technology we have amazing clarity.
Photographers in the past were mainly middle class citizens whereas the subject of the photographs were higher class people. By having one's portrait done an individual of the ascending classes could visually affirm his new social status both to himself and to the world at large. To meet the increased demand for portraits, the art became more and more mechanized. The photographic portrait was the final stage in this trend toward mechanization. Photography in the early days was also very costly, which made it hard for the middle class to afford.
Photography today does not limit who the photographer is or who the subject is. Today we use photography for many different things including magazines, newspapers, and family photographs. Photography can be relatively cheap depending on the equipment you are using. If you’re using a general disposable camera it is obviously going to cost you less.
3. What was the impact on technology on the portraits in the past and today?
Technology had a huge impact on the portraits in the past, we no longer use certain techniques. We’re now looking for ways to let a machine do the work for us. Seems like photography used to be so much more creative than it is now. People aren’t using there own original ideas, they’re making a copy of someone else’s work from the past.
 Precursors of the Photographic Portrait