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Toronto, Ontario, Canada
"To take a photograph is to align the head, the eye and the heart. It's a way of life." ~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The First Portrait Photograph ~ by Robert Cornelius 1839

On a sunny day in October 1839, Robert Cornelius set up his camera in the back of his father’s gas lamp-importing business on Chestnut Street in Center City, Philadelphia. After removing the lens cap, he sprinted into the frame, where he sat for more than a minute before covering up the lens. The picture he produced that day was the first photographic portrait. [via Daily News]

Robert Cornelius went on to become a celebrated portait photographer shooting Daguerreotypes (the process that Louis Daguerre invented).  Daguerre’s own agent in Britain wrote that Cornelius’ pictures were “the most beautiful specimens of the daguerreotype then in existence.”

Despite his success, Cornelius gave up his photography business after only two years. Gas lighting was becoming the illumination of choice for new buildings, and there was more money to be made in lamps and chandeliers than in image-making. Ahh.... things have not changed much after all these years.

Self Portrait ~ Robert Cornelius Daguerreotype, 1839 
Cornelius wrote on the back of this image  “The first light Picture ever taken. 1839."

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