The Saturday Evening Post History Minute: The First Photos

Photos today are ubiquitous, but they were once considered miraculous. Here's a look at the first photos ever taken, as well as the first photos of people, pets, presidents, and more.

Weekly Newsletter

The best of The Saturday Evening Post in your inbox!


See all of our History Minute videos.

Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now


  1. I still take pictures with a manual camera -setting aperture and film speed. I love photography – it’s saying something pictorially rather than verbally and I think gets the point across more meaningfully. I love black & white photography especially I believe in relying on subject without color sometimes getting in the way of the message.
    I love creating Memories – Life moves faster and faster and we can forget easily but pictures bring memories all home again.

    ….however today my Apple camera allows me to take pictures at events that in today’s world would be difficult with my metal Canon manual camera and flash..
    For posterity however the silver halide will last much longer than pixels I think… And one hopes pictures can be forever.

  2. What a fascinating look at the very beginnings of photography in the 1820’s, then throughout the 19th century. I can see why John Quincy Adams didn’t like his first photo, but (I presume) liked the second one several years later. The 1877 color photo of southern France was/is very beautiful.

    The 20th century got the full impact of photography during its 10 distinctive decades both in photos and moving pictures, be it film, kinescopes or video. The 1990’s are now long enough ago that photos still meant something, and seem like the last decade they did. Photography, like most everything else has been reduced to being so ubiquitous, they’re nearly meaningless.

    When anyone with a phone (and no longer real cameras) is snapping away all day, everyday taking disposable mundane photos, you get the situation we’re in now: already generic decades made even more so. If someone reading this in 2124 disagrees, be my guest.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *