First human in a photo
Daguerreotype was the first publicly announced photographic process. It was invented by Louis-Jaques-Mande Daguerre and introduced worldwide in 1839. To make a daguerreotype the daguerreotypist would polish a sheet of silver-plated copper to a mirror finish, treat it with fumes that made its surface light sensitive and expose it in a camera for as long as was necessary. Viewing a daguerreotype is unlike looking at any type of photo. The image does not sit on the surface of the metal, but appears to be floating in space. The first photo of a person was taken using the daguerreotype process. The man in the photo, we should call him Jean-Louis Le Franc, was having his shoes shined. It would be interesting to see howJean Louis would take to Snapchat or Instagram, but we’ve definitely come a long way since then. Modern day photography has become a convenient way to self promote but the ability to physically capture a memory will always be important for us.
Boulevard du Temple – Paris
First colour photo
Thomas Sutton collaborated with the theoretical physicist James Clerk Maxwell to take three separate exposures of a tartan ribbon through red, green and blue filters. The developed negatives were projected through separate magic lanterns, with the same coloured filters, on to a screen to create a single image. The principle of colour photography was born.
First war photo
One of the very first war photographs was of US forces fighting in the Mexican War in 1847. The image of American troops riding into the city of Saltillo was captured using daguerreotype technology. The photographer was an unknown American who wanted to take pictures of the likenesses of army officers, Mexican civilians and battlefields. The Mexican war resulted in the US forces being victorious and acquired 500,000 sq miles of land. It is estimated close to 5,000 Mexicans were killed during the land acquisition. The photos are rich in history and the rough and abstract finish makes for striking photography.