Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre Is Born

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, inventor of the first practical process of photography, was born near Paris, France on November 18, 1789.

A professional scene painter for the opera, Daguerre began experimenting with the effects of light upon translucent paintings in the 1820s. In 1829, he formed a partnership with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce to improve the process Niépce had developed to take the first permanent photograph in 1826-1827. Niépce died in 1833.

After several years of experimentation, Daguerre developed a more convenient and effective method of photography, naming it after himself—the daguerreotype. In 1839, he and Niépce's son sold the rights for the daguerreotype to the French government and published a booklet describing the process.

A daguerreotype (original French: daguerréotype) is an early type of photograph, developed by Louis Daguerre, in which the image is exposed directly onto a mirror-polished surface of silver bearing a coating of silver halide particles deposited by iodine vapor. In later developments bromine and chlorine vapors were also used, resulting in shorter exposure times. The daguerreotype is a negative image, but the mirrored surface of the metal plate reflects the image and makes it appear positive in the proper light. Thus, daguerreotype is a direct photographic process without the capacity for duplication.

While the daguerreotype was not the first photographic process to be invented, earlier processes required hours for successful exposure, which made daguerreotype the first commercially viable photographic process and the first to permanently record and fix an image with exposure time compatible with portrait photography.