First Ever Photograph of a Human Being

This photograph of Boulevard du Temple in Paris was made in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, the brilliant guy that invented the daguerreotype process of photography. Aside from its distinction of being a super early photograph, it’s also the first photograph to ever include a human being. Because the image required an exposure time of over ten minutes, all the people, carriages, and other moving things disappear from the scene. However, in the bottom left hand corner is a man who just so happened to stay somewhat still during the shot — he was having his shoes shined.

It’s interesting how sheer luck earned the guy a place in the history of photography. Too bad we’ll probably never know his identity.

(via NPR)

  • Pieter

    Or would he have ever known his fame

  • Chynadoll035

    Very cool!!

  • James Drake

    This was a really cool post. Thanks!

  • Iamsjn

    What about the sleeping guy in the bench?

  • Mahesh Asolkar

    What an interesting piece of tidbit!

  • Roc Herms

    The guy in the picture it’s probably Louise Daguerre itself or one of his assistants. He made those pictures from his studio in Paris. There are some previous shoots with no one in the frame, due to the long exposure times, so he probably went down to the street in one of those shoot experiments.

  • BlueChartreuse

    What about the guy shining his shoes? Shouldn’t he qualify as a human being too?

  • Felix

    Is there a modern equivalent of this technique to erase moving objects from a busy daytime street scene?

    A regular long photo exposure would result in a pure white image right?

  • Michael Zhang
  • Michael Zhang

    Or you can stack a bazillion neutral density filters and do a long exposure at low ISO

  • Anonymous


  • Kevin Morrison

    I see the shoe polisher too!

  • Ross Hall

    I have a shot like this. 30+ second exposure down by the headlight on Southbank in London. I checked the shot and realised there was a couple stood in the shot and they were in near perfect focus. A sign that they had just spent more than half a minute looking at the building.

    I left them in it.

  • Santa Galimgereyeva

    exactly what I thought too, lmao.

  • Tyler Webb
  • jeremy

    It looks as though there are 2 people on the bench to the right of the man and shoe shiner. Also, look in the top left window of the building, it looks as though there is a childs face just along the window sill. If you go to Wiki, you can zoom in and get a better look.

  • Steveg_60

    And then came the second tidbit of photography; the “model release” :-)

  • Laura Monday

    Thanks for posting this! Such an evocative, lost image. I haven’t seen it since I was at M.I.C.A.! Makes my heart warm =) And I thrilled to Jeremy’s comment above!

  • SWFLguy

    Do any of them have a cell phone?

  • Bilbo

    Given that we know the address, presumably it should be possible to identify the name of the family that lived in the house and, hence (at least possibly), the child’s name. The first identifiable person ever photographed . . .

  • Pkm123368

    Is a robot shining the man’s shoe’s? Why only count the man having his shoe’s shined? The shoe shiner is a man too.

  • Estaban

    “Go home and get your shine box.”

  • Glazemoo

    I am feeling proud to see the 1st photographs of a human being. Thank you for posting such an historic image.

  • Travis Lindsay

    That’s Captain Morgan!!!

  • ben macken


  • Werner Pretorius


  • Wills

    It looks like two more people on the right. Either way, it’s a great historical look at the world then.

  • imademocrat4obama

    Is he still alive?

  • Vitsing

    I’m sure he is still taking photos via his remote grave Daisies. Keep up the creative work :<)

  • Cadaherida

    so the shoe shine man is not a human being?

  • Anonymous

    Exactly, I was just saying that. They should have said, “Human Beings”..

  • Madmike

    Given the exposure time, we’re probably seeing both shoes shined. Which leg is up on the bench? Looks like both…

  • Bart

    Great how you see the outline of 19 century men’s dressing.

  • Jdastyar

    if you see one of charlie chaplins movie (1920″s) there is a woman talking on a cell phone.

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  • Jim_courtney01

    Hmmm ! Paris hasn’t changed very much over the years

  • David

    And shortly after this picture was taken. a man in Paris was heard to ask, “Ok, so how the heck do I upload this thing to my Facebook page?”

  • Gregory

    That’s a cat, not a child. See the ears?

  • Dewey

    Looks like some of the very first AC window units also make an appearance. jk.

  • Sdsdsdgwd

    Its a hoax! That’s not a poltergeist!!!

  • Rick in NC

    Okay, Okay, It’s me. I admit it. Geez all the pressure…Now, send me a check for using my image without permission, and I’ll forget the entire incident.

  • David

    That’s a joke, right?

  • sandman

    any fool can see that this man is jimmy hoffa!!!

  • Carlos_santelih

    first photo of a black man shoe shining a white’s man shoes…

  • addie

    I guess the person who posted this photo was guessing the boot black was black when the photo was taken and sees them they way they were seen in the 1830s, as less than human, or maybe it is a comment on the posters veiw of poor people.

    Aside from that, Holy Cow! Cool Photo! 1938!? Wow!

  • Noch

    I had no idea! You must be doubly famous then: once for the photo and once for being at least 172 years old!

  • wood

    No, he was probably black.

  • Mbbb333

    nowadays, there would be a minimum of 6 security cameras recording in HD every detail of nose picking etc

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  • KIF

    I hope the guy was arrested he was clearly causing mischief. He is kicking public property.