The Oldest Photos in the World

We have listed the Top 10 World oldest photos in the world.

Top 1

Pinhole cameras” were even described by Chinese philosophers and Greek mathemeticians as far back as 500BC. But it wasn’t until the early 1800s that we saw our first permanent photographs. Let’s take a look back on some of the earliest images known to man.

1826: Oldest Surviving Photograph

View from the Window at Le Gras –  Nicéphore Niépce

View from the Window at Le Gras © Nicéphore Niépce

Top 2

There isn’t a whole lot to admire about this one, except for the fact that it’s the oldest surviving photograph in the world (which means there were others taken earlier that perished). It’s printed on a metal plate of tin. The image did not come to light until 1952, when Niepce was credited with being the inventor of photography, long after his death.

1832: Oldest Photograph of a Human

“Boulevard du Temple”  – Louis Daguerre 

oldest human photo

“Boulevard du Temple” © Louis Daguerre

Top 3

The first photograph of a human was incidental and a thing of luck, as the 10 minute exposure did not capture most of the moving carriages and people in this Parisian street scene. But one man stood still long enough while his shoes were being shined, putting him on the pedestal as the first human ever photographed.

1835: Oldest Negative in Existence

Lacock AbbeyWilliam Fox Talbott

Lacock Abbey © William Fox Talbot

Top 4

Talbot invented the calotype process, which creates negative images that we should all be familiar with (if you’ve ever gotten film back). With the ability to create many positives from one negative, Talbot’s process effectively made portraits readily available to the masses. Prints are still being made from this negative. 

1861: Oldest Color Photograph

Tartan Ribbon – James Clerk Maxwell

Tartan Ribbon © James Clerk Maxwell

Top 5

The first color photograph was made for use in a lecture on physics, not photography. It is actually composed of three images taken using three different filters: red, blue, and green, then combined together. Despite having made the first color photograph ever, Maxwell was not satisfied with the results.

1957: The First Digital Photograph

Walden – Russell Kirsch


Walden © Russell Kirsch

The first digital snap is actually a scan of a film photograph. And it came 2 decades before the first digital camera! The image of Kirsch’s three month old son measured 176×176 pixels for a whopping 0.03 megapixel total. Here’s a video describing the computer than made the scan.

Finally, here’s a nice video going over some of these oldest photos, and more…

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