The Oldest Photo of a Human?

Posted by David Ozanich — 28 Oct 2010


There’s been some interesting news coming out in the last couple days about the discovery of images possibly documenting the first humans ever captured in a picture.

Robert Krulwich, of NPR, examined a daguerreotype taken by Charles Fontayne and William Porter in Cincinnati, Ohio on Sunday, September 24th, 1848. In this fascinating article (with interactive pictures!) he lands upon a human form (seen above) which was possibly the oldest known photographic image of a human.

Not so! Gig Thurmond brought to light a 1838 daguerreotype - 10 years the Fontayne/Porter image’s junior:

This is a Daguerreotype taken by the inventor of the process, Louis Daguerre, in 1838. It is a view of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris. To achieve this image (one of his earliest attempts), he exposed a chemically treated metal plate for ten minutes. Others were walking or riding in carriages down that busy street that day, but because they moved, they didn't show up. Only this guy stood still long enough—maybe to have his boots shined—to leave an image.

Other primitive forms of photography had preceded this picture by over a decade. But this anonymous shadowy man is the first human being to ever have his picture taken. There is also the very faint image of the bootblack bent over his work.

first photo detail.jpg

Via Techi.

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