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The first picture of people - from 1838

One man stays still long enough to have his boots polished in Parisian scene – and to appear in a daguerreotype.

IT’S EASY TO forget how old photography is.

Given that flying, internal combustion engines, electricity, the telephone, and other staples of modern life didn’t get cranking until the late 1800s and early 1900s, it’s always startling to be reminded how relatively long photography has been with us. But it got started in about 1800.

This picture, a daguerrotype, was tweeted by Paris Savant. It’s billed as the first-known picture of Paris. According to Wikipedia, it’s also the first known picture with people in it:

Boulevard du Temple, a daguerreotype made by Louis Daguerre in 1838, is generally accepted as the earliest photograph of people. It is a view of a busy street, but because the exposure time was at least ten minutes the moving traffic left no trace. Only the two men near the bottom left corner, one apparently having his boots polished by the other, stayed in one place long enough to be visible.

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Image: Parisavant/Wikipedia

- Henry Blodget

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