The long march of photography through the institutions of art history had basically already begun in the mid-19th century.

Numerous genres such as reportage, portraiture, industrial, nude or nature photography have become indispensable in postmodern art and have inspired other art genres.

The development of digital photography has given the medium additional momentum.

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It is not known what sound the first photograph by Joseph Nicéphore Nièpce produced in 1826. However, it would take many decades until photography, which was initially viewed with scepticism, made a "click" in art history and established itself as an equal form of expression in visual arts alongside painting and graphic design.

In the middle of the 19th century, photographers made their first attempts to imitate painting or designed the picture by depicting people in the most picturesque surroundings possible, often with Greek or Roman column imitations.
Today, seven-figure sums are sometimes paid for photographs.

In 2011, Christie's auction house in New York sold a photograph by Andreas Gursky for a record sum of 4.3 million US dollars.

The German weekly newspaper Die Zeit interpreted the sale as an indication that photography had arrived in the top market previously dominated by painting and wrote further: "The prices for photographic works are rising, and anyone who buys a picture by a young photographer today could soon have a sought-after artwork hanging in their living room."