If it weren’t for the invention of the camera, many of the greatest moments in our recent history would be lost forever. Thankfully, we now have some amazing visual records of the past, but the art of photography has come a very long way in the past several centuries.

These rare old photographs show some of the most defining moments in the evolution of photography. It’s because of these groundbreaking images that the practice of taking pictures has become an important part of our daily lives!

 1. The first photograph ever taken, 1827

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View from the Window at Le Gras, taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France, is widely considered the first photograph ever taken. Though the image is grainy, you can clearly see some buildings and the photographer’s own home.

2. The first human captured in a photograph, 1838

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The first person to ever be captured in a photograph can be seen in the bottom lefthand corner of this photo, taken by Louis Daguerre from his apartment building.

3. The first selfie ever taken, 1839

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To take the first-ever photographed self-portrait, Robert Cornelius, a photography enthusiast from Philadelphia, uncovered his lens, got into the frame, sat down without moving for one minute, and re-covered the lens.

4. The first faked photo, 1840

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Even though Daguerre developed the photographic process after Hippolyte Bayard, he is still known to this day as The Godfather of Photography, because he released his findings first. Hippolyte responded by publicizing this image, which looks to be a photo of himself dead after drowning. It was later discovered to be a hoax.

5. The first photograph of the Moon, 1840

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The first image of the moon was captured by John W. Draper. Unfortunately, the photograph suffered severe damage, as it was not properly stored.

6. The first photograph of an American President, 1843

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John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States, was the first American president to have his photo taken, even though he had already left office.

7. The first aerial photograph, 1860

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James Wallace Black took this, the first known aerial photograph, while overlooking Boston from a hot air balloon 2,0oo feet in the air.

8. The first color photograph, 1861

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This photo of a tartan ribbon was taken by Thomas Sutton, the inventor of the SLR camera, in collaboration with physicist James Clerk Maxwell.

9. The first photo of a battle in progress, 1870

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This 1870 image, depicting Prussian and French troops, is the first-known photograph of a battle while it was happening.

10. The first color photograph of a landscape, 1877

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Louis Arthur Ducos du Hauron, a famed color photographer, took this shot of a scene in Southern France.

11. The first tornado captured in a photograph, 1884

history-photos-11Kansas Historical Society

This tornado was captured from 14 miles away by a Kansas fruit farmer using a box camera.

12. The first photograph of Earth taken from space, 1950

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This photograph was taken by a V-2 rocket in 1950. At the time, people described the image as “how our Earth would look to visitors from another planet coming in on a spaceship.”

13. The first digital photograph, 1957

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This photograph was created through technological developments by Russell A. Kirsch that made it possible to scan graphics to computer memory. The boy in the picture is Kirsch’s son, Walden.

These images are amazing! It’s so incredible to see how far the art of photography has come in just a few short centuries.

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