Katharine Steidl’s article discussing early photography as botanical illustration addresess the technical accuracy of “contact printing” and it’s increasing popularity during the seaweed and fern-crazed 1830’s.
During the Victorian Era, many women involved themselves in the study of natural history and embraced all aspects of botanical science, including documentation of specimens — what Steidl describes as the feminization of photography. This afforded women a specific role in the scientific community. The practice of contact-printed photographs used as scientific illustration fell out of favor when objects could be photographed with more dimensionality using a camera with lens. By 1839, cameraless photography began to be viewed, like scrapbooking, as a women's hobby -- a technique for passing time, capturing trivial subject matter for amusement.