Photography was probably an inevitable invention – the surprise was that it took so long for it to develop, especially given that the scientific principles that are responsible for it!
- In 1760, decades before the invention of photography, French author Charles-François Tiphaigne de la Roche predicted its invention, in the above shown book.
- The grainy picture above is the world’s first photograph called “View from the Window at Le Gras” (circa 1826), taken and developed by French photographer pioneer Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. He called this process “heliography” or sun drawing – it certainly was a long process: the exposure time was about 8 hours.
- Although daguerreotype [wiki] was not the first photographic process to be invented, it was the first commercially viable process (earlier techniques required hours and hours of successful exposure and therefore weren’t suitable for taking people’s photos). This technique was developed by French chemist Louis Daguerre [wiki], with collaboration with Niépce (see above). The daguerreotype above, titled “L’Atelier de l’artiste” was probably the world’s first daguerreotype, made in 1837. In 1839, the French government acquired Daguerre’s French patent and announced his invention “a gift free to the world” – but simultaneously, Daguerre had acquired patents abroad, where he stringently controlled the use of daguerreotype.And just like with any technology, the first adopters turned out to be erotic photography [wiki, nsfw - obviously].Posing for a daguerreotype wasn’t trivial: because the exposure time is about 15 minutes, the subject’s head had to be held still with a clamp!
- The World’s first Human Portrait – In 1839, Robert Cornelius, a Dutch chemist who immigrated to Philadelphia, took a daguerreotype portrait of himself outside of his family’s store and made history: he made the world’s first human photograph!
- You’re looking at Dorothy Catherine Draper, sister of NYU professor John Draper and model for the first daguerreotype portrait of a woman in the United States in 1839. She was the first woman to be photographed with her eyes open!
The earliest American attempts in duplicating the photographic experiments of the Frenchman Louis Daguerre occurred at NYU in 1839. John W. Draper, professor of chemistry, built his own camera and made what may be the first human portrait taken in the United States, after a 65-second exposure. The sitter, his sister Dorothy Catherine Draper, had her face powdered with flour in an early attempt to accentuate contrasts.
- In 1839, the term “photography” was coined by Sir John Frederick William Herschel [wiki], a british mathematician and astronomer (side note: his father, Sir Frederick William Herschel, also a famous astronomer, discovered the planet Uranus!) Herschel also coined the terms “negative” and “positive” in the context of photography, and also of the vernacular “snapshot.”