November 18 – Happy Birthday, Louis Daguerre

Posted on November 18, 2014

This French artist was a panoramic painter and a famous designer for the theater. He invented diorama theater and studied architecture. But he is not known, now, for any of these things.

Instead, Louis Daguerre is known as one of the Fathers of Photography!

I don't know much about photography, but even I recognized his name, because he developed an early photographic process that we call daguerreotype in his honor.

A daguerreotype is an image on a bright mirror-like surface of metallic silver.

At first, Daguerre worked with another inventor name Nicephore Niepce, but the inventor suddenly died before they had released their invention to the world. Six years after his partner's death, Daguerre announced the invention to the French Academy of Sciences, explaining and demonstrating the process to only one person, but showing off the results—the daguerreotypes themselves—to others. People thought the early photos were miracles, and news of the invention spread.

Daguerre gave rights to the invention to the French government in exchange for lifetime pensions for himself and for Niepce's son. And France published working instructions “free to the world” – isn't that nice?

I thought it was interesting to note that, of the 72 names of French scientists, engineers, and mathematicians inscribed on the Eiffel Tower, one of them is Louis Daguerre!

Here is the first daguerreotype, taken by Daguerre himself.

Learn more about the daguerreotype process here

Modern artist Chuck Close used this 150-year-old process to make some striking photos of people.

Also on this date:

Push-Button Phone Day 

Beni Festival in Trinidad, Bolivia 

Flag Day in Uzbekistan

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