In 1848, Brewster developed this technique to view photographs with the illusion of three-dimensional depth. The stereoscope viewfinder from the time of the daguerreotype strongly resembled a pair of opera binoculars. He held himself in front of the eyes, actively looking through them in search of a target or subject of interest. Parisian theaters were places for those in search of erotic adventures. Men swept the theater boxes with their opera binoculars, in search of all kinds of visual pleasures, all the more enjoyable by the clandestine nature of this activity. The daguerreotype just produced a similar sensation.
The need to use a magnifying and focusing lens viewfinder was ideal for the daguerreotype. It eliminated all the limitations of the small scale of the image and provided ideal lighting circumstances to be able to see it optimally. The popularity of the novelty was in the upper classes, who were more than willing to pay a high price to obtain luxury productions from the best opticians and photographic studios.
The images were sold more or less publicly, in optical shops, where they had an air of scientific legitimacy. Pornography was not legal in France and should be careful to avoid persecution, despite the general air of tolerance. Therefore, most of the daguerreotypes do not bear the name of their maker, only some bear the labels of the optical houses. In general, images that were excessively “natural” and “realistic” were objected to.
There is no doubt that commercialization was a major factor in the production of erotic photography. There was already a pre-existing market and taste for such images, established by lithography which found in photography a wide field for bonding.
They circulated in the form of academies. Traditionally, an “academy” (acamie) was a study of the nude by a painter to master the female or male anatomy. Even at this time, photographs of nude women of exotic ethnic groups became popular, under the umbrella of science.
The images were also sold near train stations, by itinerant vendors and women on the streets who hid them under their clothes. They were often produced in series (of four, eight or twelve) and exported abroad, mainly to England and the United States.
The gradual perfection of photography on paper and the glass plate negative in the 1850s began to seriously compete with the daguerreotype, particularly in Paris. Paper stereographs could not offer the visual splendor and illusion of stereographic daguerreotypes, but they did offer a great commercial advantage in that they could be made in large quantities and thus sold to a wider audience.
This factor and the philosophy of a less liberal government brought a more restrictive policy regarding issues of public morality, which ended the era of erotic daguerreotypes. Erotica continued to occur, but with a loss of refinement and care.