The 6 Oldest Photos of All Time

The history of photography goes back to the early 19th century. Since then, many photographers have come up with pioneering ideas that have helped the art of photography to move forward and be where we are today. It is worth knowing that the new technologies and techniques used were complicated and time-consuming, making photography intricate and cumbersome. Despite this, many artists captured photos that have been etched in history books forever. Here is a list of the oldest photos of all times and the people who made them possible.

The Very First Photograph

Joseph Nicephore Niepce, considered the father of photography, is the first to capture a photo using a camera. In 1826, he used the heliography process to shoot the view from his estate’s upstairs windows. Even when the method used light exposure, it used Bitumen of Judea coating on a piece of metal or glass to create the photo.

2 Untitled Design Copy
View from the Window at Le Gras - Circa 1826

The First Coloured Photo

While the first photograph dates back to the 1820s, it took another four decades before colour photography became possible. Interestingly, the person behind the first colour photograph was someone who is known to be a famous physicist and inventor. James Clerk Maxwell created the photography process, and Thomas Sutton, the inventor of the SLR, shot the photo. Maxwell unveiled the multi-coloured bow in 1861

Untitled Design
The first colour photograph layering three different images through red, green and blue (RGB) - 1861

The First Photo with a Person

5 Boulevard Du Temple By Daguerre
Boulevard du Temple, taken by Louis Daguerre - 1838

Louis Daguerre captured the first photo of a human being in 1838. The picture shows a man cleaning his boots on the pavement in the city of Paris. Interestingly, it took 7 minutes of exposure to capture the shot. This famous photo is known as Boulevard du Temple by Louis Daguerre.

The intention to shoot the photo was to capture the Boulevard du Temple. The long exposure prevented many other people walking on the street from making an impression on the photograph; since the man depicted stood there long enough for the exposure to capture him and the shoeshine boy.

An Aerial Photo from a Hot Air Balloon

The oldest surviving aerial photo. Taken flying over Boston by James Wallace Black - 1860

Photography was a time-consuming and challenging art during the 19th century. However, that didn’t deter many photographers from embarking on adventurous photography ventures.

In 1860, James Wallace Black took an aerial photograph by flying in a hot air balloon. It is the photo of Boston from a height of 2,000 feet in the air.

Interestingly, this is the second aerial photograph. In 1858, Felix Tournachon shot the first aerial photo of the Bievre Valley, France from a tethered balloon. There are no copies of this first picture available.

The First “Selfie”

585Px Robertcornelius
Self-portrait of Robert Cornelius - 1839

Robert Cornelius, an American pioneer in photography, captured in 1839 the first self-portrait photo in history.

He took it at the back of the family store in Center City, Philadelphia, sitting in front of the camera for more than a minute before covering the lens.

The First Coloured Landscape Photo

It took 15 years after the first coloured photograph to shoot a landscape in colour. In 1877, Louis Arthur Ducos du Hauron, a French photographer, used a unique process to capture the shot that became famous as the View of Agen or Landscape of Southern France.

View Of Agen
View of Agen by Louis Ducos du Hauron - 1877

Louis used the dye sensitization technique to develop most of his first colour photos. Hermann Wilhelm Vogel developed this method in 1873.

These are some of the most famous oldest photos that are considered the first in their category.

Onetree Vertical Banner 2
Onetree Vertical Banner 2 Mobile


Get a FREE Quote
Too old or damaged?
No worries! We can fix it and make it beautiful.
See our gallery

from our blog

You might also like

Photo 1582816299240 2135Cd671350
Adding Photo Filters To Printed Photos

With digital image enhancement tools, you can edit an image with filters that tell a story when they're printed. However, before adding filters to printed photos, you'll want to check that your printed image isn't losing quality.

Resize Resize Look Up To The Stars And Never Give Up T20 J1rddx
The Work That We Do at Futura Photo

Over time, pictures and photographic paper can lose their physical integrity, get stained or scratched. If you feel concerned about it, we can help. Learn about what we do at Futura Photo and what wide range of improvements we can bring to your photos.

Charisse Kenion 9T0hl9ro3zg Unsplash
Easy Ways to Digitize Old Photos in Bulk

Turning your pictures digital is a choice you will never regret.

Car 4 C
The Challenges of Photo Restoration

There's no secret on photo restoration, you just need time an a lot of experience to get the right results. We take you through some tools and tips to get you started.

We would love to take care of your old or damaged photos.
Let's Restore your Photos!