A few months ago I wrote about the world’s oldest photograph, which was taken in 1825. It was a simple picture of a man and his horse. Since the old-fashioned process used to take that photo, known as heliogravure, isn’t a traditional photography procedure, many people said it isn’t actually the first oldest photograph. After all, technically it could be argued that it isn’t a photograph at all.
So if that isn’t actually the world’s oldest photograph, what is? What about the world’s first photograph of a human being? I found a really old post on NPR that suggests the photograph below is the world’s oldest photograph of a human being, which was taken in Paris in 1838.
Since the exposure time was over ten minutes, all the moving things aren’t visible in the photo. There were other people, carriages, animals, and other things that we can’t see which were originally in this scene, but they were blurred out by the long exposure time. Only the things standing still are visible. There is a man in this picture who is having his shoes shined, and since he was still when it was taken, he now has his place in history as being the first human being in a photograph.
Of course, you can’t completely tell that this photograph doesn’t have two women instead of two men; however, you can see that the people are wearing pants. Most women during that time wore dresses, so that is the reason historians assume these were men. Some people say this isn’t a photo of a person getting his shoe shined at all, they suggest it is only one person and the second image is a shadow. Other people say there is a boy looking out of the window in one of these buildings too. There is a lot of mystery and history in this photo. You can read more about it on the source sites listed below.
This is the photo after the NPR author played with it a little. He enlarged it, adjusted the contrast, and lightened it up.