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 Niépce, 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.