The camera is a mirror with a memory

ANTOINE FRANCOIS CLAUDET. The Geography Lesson, c. 1850. Daguerreotype.

Daguerreotype, circa 1850
‘The Geography Lesson’ by Antoine Francois Claudet

The camera is a mirror with a memory.

This was the evocative phrase that Oliver Wendell Holmes used to describe the daguerreotype, the early photographic process that used polished metal as the surface for image creation.

It’s quite lovely, don’t you think?

Footnote: Announced by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre in 1839, the daguerreotype was wildly popular as a medium for portraiture in the 1850s despite the expense and difficulty of production. The process, using iodine and mercury, was toxic, but the resulting clarity was highly prized. If you’d like more information, click here.

22 thoughts on “The camera is a mirror with a memory

  1. I love old photography, the photographers had to think about the shot, posing, composition and settings were so important, unlike now with digital photography when its easy to just point, click and delete.

    Thank for sharing.



    • Pleased you like it too! And yes, I’ve delved into Sontag’s essays also… are you planning to read ‘Regarding the Pain of Others’ next? Thank you for visiting, Barbara…

    • It certainly was another world back then! And how lucky we are to have photographs that document it. I especially love daguerreotypes, they have such a special mirror-like quality. Thank you for your interest, Zelmare…

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