First photograph showing a human being 1839

April 05, 2013  •  13 Comments

                                        Here's the next post in the series on Photography history!!


 In about 1827, Nie`pce met Louis Jacques Mande` Daguerre, who became interested in Nie`pce's work because of his uses of the camera obscura for painting and theatrical designing. The two men entered into a partnership to perfect Nie`pces process, a collaboration that continued without practical results until after Nie`pce's death in 1831. Daguerre continued to work on experiments with Nie`pce's son.  After working with Nie`pce  and his son Isidore for ten years, Daguerre developed a method of producing extremely fine, luminous, and permanent images on sheets of copper plated with silver, fumed with Iodine vapor and processed in mercury vapor.

 Daguerre was a flamboyant theatrical entrepreneur and showman whose Diorama productions had thrilled audiences in London and Paris for many years. Now, sensing a hit, he moved to promote his photographic invention. In 1839, he arranged for the French Academy of Science to announce the process that he named the Daguerreotype. He persuaded the French government into buying the rights and making them public in France, and awarding him and Isidore Nie`pce lifetime pensions.

 Fascination with the Daguerreotype swept Paris. Upon seeing the process for the first time, painter Paul Delaroche pronounced, "From today, painting is dead!" Daguerreotypomania, as it was dubbed in the press, seemed to take over every phase of life. Nothing like it had ever been seen before. The perfect perspectives, the exquisitely etched details of cobblestone streets and subtle shadings on facial features evoked comparisons with the great artists.

 The Daguerreotype spread rapidly throughout Europe. Daguerreotypists appeared everywhere, offering convenient portrait services to celebrities and common folk alike. Enterprising publishers dispatched Daguerreotypists to foreign lands and began illustrating their travel books with illustrations and drawings that were hand copied from Daguerreotype views. Daguerreotypes also appeared as miniature works of art and as documentations of events. It seems certain that by 1843, only four years after Daguerre's announcement, every European town of consequence had at least one Daguerreotype studio!

 Daguerre's  patent restrictions made Daguerreotypy costly in England, but the process spread unfettered to America. The American inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, who had also tried unsuccessfully to fix camera obscura images, learned of Daguerre's work during a visit to Paris and, by mid 1840, he and John William Draper had become partners in a portraits studio atop New York University. The craft spread rapidly in America. By 1853 New York City alone boasted an estimated 100 or more studios!

 Daguerre may not have been the inventor of photography, but he probably did more then any other person to make photography a matter of public interest. People from London to st. Petersburg and even in America reacted with wild enthusiasm. Before long the Daguerreotypomania had captured the public's imagination! Studio's sprung up everywhere and excited amateurs clamored to buy a Daguerreotype apparatus! Popular photography had been BORN!!!

 Below is a Daguerreotype, made in 1839 by Louis Jacques Mande` Daguerre. It is generally regarded as the first photograph showing the image of a human being! Early Daguerreotypes required lengthy exposures. Daguerre was fortunate that for this shot, his human subject remained in a relatively stationary position while having his boots shined, allowing his image to be captured! Meanwhile, pedestrian and carriage traffic that may have passed along the street while the image was being slowly recorded were never stationary long enough to become fixed in this memorable scene!

 Can you find the person?? : )


 Paris Boulevard 1839

 If you missed the first post on the History of Photography and would like to catch up Click here to read about the first photograph ever taken!

 If you would like to continue reading about the history of photography Click here










Yasmin Sarai(non-registered)
Wow! Thanks for teaching me more about the history!
Michelle S Hanks(non-registered)
Very interesting stuff. I'm enjoying reading about the history of my most favorite past time.
Gretchen Korf(non-registered)
It's amazing how cool old images are. I try to remind myself to take some images like this, even when they seem mundane at the moment, looking back they are memories captured!
Ah Paris. How I miss you :(
very interesting piece! Well done!
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