though there is no evidence that Disdéri envisioned a stylistic change in the resultant portraits, in effect the use of faster lenses with shorter focal lengths allowed greater flexibility in posing and encouraged full-length rather than bust views. As documented in an article in La Lumière on 28 October 1854 that may have prompted Disdéri's patent registration, the wealthy amateurs Édouard Delessert and Count Olympe Aguado had already begun experimenting with visiting-card-sized portraits that showed figures tipping their hats, holding their gloves, and dressed appropriately to the visit being made. Such fashionable people, concerned about their public self-presentation in the grand new spaces of Haussmann's Paris, became the first clients for the tiny portraits by c. 1857. Members of Napoleon III's court and boulevard actresses flocked to Disdéri's and other studios to preen themselves before the camera in their evening crinolines, morning dresses, or various degrees of déshabillé.
The craze for cartes de visite and the special albums manufactured to hold them spread from Europe to the rest of the world between the late 1850s and the 1870s, with the format considered outmoded in Paris by c. 1867. As carte cameras were acquired by provincial operators, prices dropped to one franc per dozen, permitting truly working-class consumption. Carte formats were also used for tintypes, which could be inserted in the same albums as images mounted on card, or safely sent through the post.
Although the format was used for landscape and topographical views, and occasionally for scenes of contemporary events, it remained predominantly a portrait medium. Marking a shift from the scrutiny of the face to the reading of the entire body, cartes gave sitters the freedom to reveal multiple identities before the lens, and anticipated the snapshot in expanding the repertoire of poses in which people were displayed. They were also exploited in celebrity series which flooded the market with hundreds of thousands of portraits of Queen Victoria, Napoleon III, or Abraham Lincoln.