Google celebrates photographer Louis Daguerre

Ane Howard · November 18, 2011 · Short URL:

Google Doodle marks Daguerre's 224th birthday

Google's latest Doodle honors Louis Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype and the world's first photographer known for having taken a person's picture.

The French physicist invented the daguerreotype in 1838, which he named after himself, a process of transferring images to silver-coated copper plate. He is also credited of having taken the first photograph of a human being. Recent most notable Google Doodles to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays have included Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie and Disney illustrator, Mary Blair.  

The latest Google Doodle illustrates a family of five in a 19th century-styled family photo. The "G" and "O" of the Google name represent the father and the mother. The mustached "G" shows a likeness to Daguerre himself. The three remaining letters represent the children. 

Daguerre, born Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre on November 18, 1789, just outside of Paris, was originally a professional scene painter for the opera with a passion for lighting effects.  Before inventing the daguerreotype, he regularly used a camera obscura, a draftsman's aid consisting of a wood box with a lens, as an aid to painting in perspective.

It was quite by accident that he invented the daguerreotype.  Prior to his discovery, Daguerre exposed the metal plate to the scene for many hours, a process known as developing a picture. One evening, he accidently left a plate in a mixture of chemicals and exposed it shortly to reveal a permanent image. Daguerre’s great discovery was that he shortened the time to a mere 30 minutes or less to take a picture, a process that prior to his invention took more than eight hours. 

Daguerre did not invent photography. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce is credited as being the inventor of the world’s first permanent photograph. But Daguerre made it practical and popular. He popularized his invention by taking pictures of everyday situations in the streets of Paris.

Boulevard du Temple

The picture above of "Boulevard du Temple" in Paris was taken in 1838 by Daguerre and is known for being the first picture ever of a human being. If you look at it carefully, in the bottom left-corner, you will see a man having his shoe shine. 

 The French government  bought the rights to the process from Daguerre and shared it in a printed booklet as a gift to “free to the world.”

Fewer than 25 of his photographs still exist today. The bulk of his work had been destroyed during a fire, on March 8, 1839, when Daguerre's laboratory burned to the ground, destroying the inventor's written records and most of his early experimental works. 

He died on July 10,1851, aged 63 years old, of a heart attack. 

(main image, Google)

(middle image, Faded and blurred)

(big image,tamabi)

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Ane Howard

I am a social journalist covering technology innovations and the founder of, an international newswire.

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