Mathew Brady was the first to undertake the photographic documentation of the American Civil War. Brady was almost killed at Bull Run, VA. He got lost for three days and eventually wound up in Washington D.C., nearly dead from starvation. Film maker Ken Burns who is famous for his television series "The Civil War" (1990), said his Civil War series could not have been made if it were not for Mathew Brady's photographs. He called them the backbone of the series. As a matter of fact, the reason the Civil War is so much more popular than the Revolutionary war is because we can actually witness the war and its heroes through photographs. - mathewbrady.com
Reports of Mathew Brady’s personal history are sparse. There is no record of his birth or his parentage. He gave his birthplace as Warren County, New York, of Irish parents in the year 1822. There is some speculation about his ability to write, as he left no records, journals, or letters. It is unusual for a man who created such a rich collection of photographic history to have a past so obscure. - International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum
Mathew B. Brady (May 18, 1822 – January 15, 1896) was one of the first American photographers, best known for his scenes of the Civil War. He studied under inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, who pioneered the daguerreotype technique in America. Brady opened his own studio in New York in 1844, and photographed Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams, among other celebrities.
From the first, I regarded myself as under obligation to my country to preserve the faces of its historic men and mothers.
My greatest aim has been to advance the art of photography and to make it what I think I have, a great and truthful medium of history.
The camera is the eye of history.
I had to go. A spirit in my feet said 'Go', and I went.
No one will ever know what I went through to secure those negatives. The world can never appreciate it. It changed the whole course of my life. (Written at the end of his life, penniless and bitter.)
I had great trouble in making a natural picture. When I got him before the camera I asked if I might arrange his collar, and with that he began to pull it up. “Ah,” said Lincoln, “I see you want to shorten my neck.” “That’s just it,” I answered, and we both laughed.