Happy Birthday, Daguerreotype
January 9, 2012 | Source: Monroe Gallery of Photography
A daguerreotype created by Daguerre
Jan. 9, 1839: Say 'Cheese'
1839: Daguerreotype, an early photographic process, is announced to the world by the French Academy of Sciences.
The process, perfected by French artist and chemist Louis Daguerre in collaboration with Joseph NiÃ©pce, exposed an image directly onto a sheet of copper coated with photosensitive silver halide. Heat was used to bring up a latent image, then the image was permanently "fixed" to the plate by dipping it in a hyposulphite of soda.
Although daguerreotype was not the only photographic method available, it cut production time dramatically, making commercial photography a viable business. A conspicuous drawback to the process was that once fixed, the photograph could not be reproduced.
Daguerreotype enjoyed a relatively short vogue; by 1860 it had been largely supplanted by the albumen print, the first commercial process that produced photographic prints on paper.