The daguerreotype photo (an old type of photograph that was made on a piece of silver or a piece of copper covered in silver), which shows an off center portrait of a man with crossed arms and tousled hair is the self-portrait of Robert Cornelius and is the first known photographic portrait of a human in world history and the first known selfie.
The American pioneer of photography and lamp manufacturer discovered his interest in the field after he was approached by American inventor, Joseph Saxton to create a silver plate for his daguerreotype of Central High School in Philadelphia.
Cornelius' father had immigrated from Amsterdam in 1783 and worked as a silversmith before opening a lamp manufacturing company. Robert Cornelius attended private school as a youth, taking a particular interest in chemistry. In 1831, he began working for his father specializing in silver plating and metal polishing. He became so well renowned for his work, that shortly after, Cornelius was approached by Mr. Saxton.
Cornelius had set his camera up at the back of the family store in Philadelphia. He took the image by removing the lens cap and then running into frame where he sat for a minute before covering up the lens again. On the back he wrote “The first light Picture ever taken. 1839.”
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