Today, Google is celebrating one of the early pioneers of photography with a Doodle that resembles the daguerreotype. Today is the birthday of French artist and scientist Louis Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype process. He would be 224 years old.
Daguerre studied theatre design, painting, and architecture as a young man, eventually teaming up with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1822. Niépce was known for his creation of the world’s first permanent photo, called a Heliograph.
The daguerreotype was officially announced, after many years of perfecting the process, with the help of the French Academy of Sciences in 1839. Daguerre used silver-covered copper plates to make direct positive images.
The daguerreotype process of photography reduced the exposure time from eight hours to 30 minutes or so. Still a long exposure time, it was a revolutionary improvement that eventually allowed for photographs to be taken of live subjects (the first daguerreotypes still focused on still images).
Here’s an early daguerreotype by Daguerre, circa 1837:
This a daguerreotype that is the first to ever show a person. Taken in Paris, the long exposure time required the people present in the photograph to stand still longer than 10 minutes.
The Library of Congress has a great database of known daguerreotype makers and their works. Here’s one by S.H. Whitmore of future first lady Mary Todd Lincoln, circa 1846.
Daguerre died of a heart attack in 1851. He is one of only 72 people to have their names inscribed in the Eiffel Tower.