10 first photographs that made photography what it is today

First photograph

August 19th is upon us! Yes, it’s the World Photography Day. It is the day we celebrate what we have grown to love over the years.

Now that cameras are ubiquitous, making a photograph is easier than ever. But like every historic practice or trend, photography had modest beginnings. We have come a long way since then and what we have achieved since the early days of photography is truly commendable.

Today, let’s look back at the many firsts that made photography what it is today — and feel proud of our progress over the past two centuries. Yes, it has been that long!

1. The world’s first photograph

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce made the first ever photograph in the 19th century (1826 or 1827). Long before people learnt to appreciate the art. This iconic image, and inarguably one that not just laid the foundation for photography as we know it but also redefined our visual capabilities.

The image is a view from an upstairs window at Joseph’s estate, Le Gras, in the Burgundy region of France.

First photograph


2. The world’s first color photograph

Photography wasn’t always shot in color. You already knew that. But, do you know when the first color photograph was made?

It was in 1861 that Thomas Sutton applied James Clerk Maxwell’s three-color method to capture an image of a ribbon — in color, of course.

first color photograph

3. The world’s first photograph with people

In the bottom left corner of the image, you’ll notice a faint but unmistakable shape of a human. This image is iconic, because it’s the first ever image to include a human being.

Captured in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, the inventor of daguerreotype process of photography, the image had a 10-minute exposure. So, most of the people in the scene weren’t recorded in the image, except for the guy standing still and getting his shoes shined.


4. The world’s first aerial photograph

Drones are a new fad. But, aerial photographs aren’t. James Wallace Black is credited with the first aerial photograph ever. And, he did that from inside a balloon flying 1200ft over Boston.

first aerial photograph

5.The world’s first selfie

Selfies are no recent trend. Self-portraits have been in existence for a long, long time — starting from 1839, when Robert Cornelius made the first selfie ever.

First self portrait selfie

6. The world’s first photograph of the first studio

In 1893, a photographer made a picture of himself in a studio. It went on to be recorded as the first ever picture made of the first photographic studio.

World's first studio

7. The world’s first photograph from space

The first-ever photograph of our planet was captured by a missile, no less. In 1946, a 35mm motion picture camera was mounted on a V-2 missile and the first ever space photograph was made from an altitude of 65 miles.

first photograph from space

8. The world’s first high speed photograph

High-speed photography is a spectacular practice. The first person to master it was Harold Edgerton, who is also known as the pioneer in strobe photography.

He created the world’s first high-speed photograph of a bullet passing through balloons in 1959.

First high speed photograph

9. The world’s first surreal photograph

Philippe Halsman was the first person to go beyond just capturing a scene. He was the first to make abstract or surreal images, and laid the platform for the evolution of photography into art.

Dalí Atomicus, his surrealist masterpiece, is an image of jumping cats and suspended water. It took him over six hours to create, with several assistants helping him. Clearly, it was well worth the effort.

first surreal photograph

10. The world’s first cinemagraph

Cinemagraphs aren’t a new concept.

Eadweard Muybridge made the first cinemagraph in 1887 at Philadelphia. His photographic sequence of a galloping horse was made by setting up a line of cameras with tripwires. The tripwires triggered one picture each for a split second and the combination of all the images formed the cinemagraph.

World's first cinemagraph gif

Happy photography day, friends!