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.