The dynamics of heavy-ion collisions is studied in an energy domain in the vicinity of the Fermi energy. The early history of the collision is analyzed from the theoretical and experimental point of view in which the message conveyed by bremsstrahlung photons and neutral pions is exploited. The Boltzmann-Uehling-Uhlenbeck model and the Dubna Cascade Model, both based on similar principles but each adopting different computation technics, are briefly described and their respective predictions are discussed. In particular the emission pattern of bremsstrahlung photons is discussed. The photon production has been measured in the systems 86Kr+ 58Ni at 60 A MeV, 181Ta+ 197Au at 40 A MeV and 208Pb+ 197Au at 30 A MeV and energy spectra, angular distributions and two-photon correlations have been analyzed. We find that bremsstrahlung photons are emitted from two distinct sources that can be correlated with nuclear-matter density oscillations. The properties of photon emission are discussed in terms of collective properties of nuclear matter. The high energy tail of the photon spectrum is interpreted by π0 and Δ decay but predominantly by radiative capture of pions. The π0 absorption in the nuclear medium is further analyzed by examining their emission pattern.