World Photography Day 2020: The Story Behind the First-Ever ‘Selfie,’ Taken All the Way Back in 1839

Image for representation.

Image for representation.

Did you know the first-ever ‘selfie’ as we know it was taken all the way back in 1839?

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  • Last Updated: August 19, 2020, 9:35 AM IST

World Photography Day is a celebration of art, craft, science and history of photography around the world.

On this day, thousands of people with the passion for photography and enthusiasts upload their pictures to broadcast their idea with their purpose.

The day inspires, creates awareness and encourages individuals in this field. The occasion motivates future generation to explore their skills and understand the significance of photography in many aspects with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm

History of World Photography Day

The origin of this day is from the invention of a photographic process called the Daguerreotype. It was developed in 1837 by Frenchmen Louis Daguerre and Joseph Nicephore Niepce. The French Academy of Sciences proclaimed the Daguerreotype on January 9, 1839. On August 19, the same year the French government acquired the patent and declared the brainchild as a gift free to the world meaning without copyright.

First Selfie of the World

“Selfie” is relatively new, shorthand for an artistic expression which has a longer history.

It was early months of 1839 in Philadelphia when American amateur chemist and photo enthusiast Robert Cornelius took the first photographic self-portrait.

It was captured without clear knowledge that it would be termed as ‘selfie’ in the upcoming. Cornelius set his camera up, took an image of himself in the back of his family’s chandelier store.

He then ran into the frame to get a picture, thus the first-ever ‘selfie’ was snapped. On the back of the photo’s paper mounting, he wrote “The first light picture ever taken 1839”. This is from where the selfie came into being.


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