Urbanography: The First Photo of Man?

first urban photo

first urban photo

Is it a bird? A plane? Big Foot? It’s none of those. However, it might just be the first photo of humans in existence. It all started after photos of Cincinnati along the Ohio River were discovered and analyzed. The photos themselves were intriguing, but now question has arisen over whether or not this one photo is a first of its kind: the first photo of humans in existence. Is it?

Robert Krulwich, an NPR correspondant, was on to something:

This is Cincinnati on Sunday, September 24th, 1848—162 years ago. The picture, a daguerreotype taken by Charles Fontayne and William Porter (who were standing on the other side of the Ohio River), is so fantastically sharp you can-with your mouse – step right onto the streets, onto the riverboats, peek through windows, explore rooftops as if you had slipped into the 1840’s with a pass key.

However, it turns out that shortly after posting this photo, Gig Thurmond did some digging of his own and found another Daguerreotype, which is a type of photographic process, of his own. The photo was actually taken by the creator of the Daguerreotype process, Louis Daguerre, in 1838 of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris, France.


It is now the first known photo of a human.

This photographic technique required subjects to remain still in order to be rendered correctly in the photo. Getting people to stand still in a thriving city at that time might not have been too easy. This is part of the reason why it is so hard to confirm photos of humans. However, this appears to be the real deal:

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.

Odds are neither of them ever knew they were making history that day.

Now that’s cool!

What do you think?

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Written by James Mowery

James Mowery is a passionate technology journalist and entrepreneur who has written for various top-tier publications like Mashable and CMSWire. Follow him on Twitter: @JMowery.

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