Eadweard Muybridge is one of the most influential photographers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, known for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion. Born in England, Muybridge immigrated to the United States as a young man but remained obscure until 1868 when his large landscape photographs of Yosemite Valley, California, made him world famous.
Muybridge’s experiments in photographing motion began in the early 1870s, when Leland and Jane Stanford hired him to help prove that during a particular moment in a galloping horse’s gait, all four legs are off the ground simultaneously. Adapting the very latest technology to his ends, Muybridge finally proved his theory by using a galloping horse to trigger the shutters of a bank of cameras. Following his initial success with horses, Muybridge used his tripwire method to capture humans and animals engaged in over 700 different movements and actions. Comprising these hundreds of plates and thousands of individual exposures, Human and Animal Locomotion is a veritable atlas of imagery about movement and time.
Muybridge’s innovations as a photographer cannot be understated. In the new world that Muybridge envisioned and created, the depiction of moving things was freed from the limitations of memory or perception, and clearly anticipated coming developments in cinematic technologies.