What is a Daguerreotype

Daguerreotype Boy by Family Tree Video
1840s Daguerreotype

A daguerreotype is an early photograph using a process invented by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre in France in the late 1830’s. It involved capturing images on a silver-coated copper plate, resulting in highly detailed and permanent photographs. Daguerreotypes were the first commercially successful photographs and were popular from the early 1840’s to the mid 1850’s.

To create a daguerreotype, a copper plate was coated with silver through a chemical process. The sensitized plate was then placed in the camera and exposed to light. After exposure, the plate was developed using mercury vapor, revealing the image. It was then fixed and washed to prevent further reactions. The resulting image appeared as a direct positive, mirror-like reflection.

Daguerreotypes offered unprecedented detail and realism for their time, capturing intricate nuances. Each daguerreotype was a one-of-a-kind object, making it a highly valued form of portraiture. However, they had limitations such as the need for long exposure times and producing only one copy of an image.

Despite these limitations, daguerreotypes had a profound impact on photography. They revolutionized the medium, inspiring photographers to experiment and innovate. Today, daguerreotypes are treasured as historical artifacts, providing unique glimpses into the past. Their significance in the development of photography cannot be overstated.

Do you have a daguerreotype of an ancestor? Tell us their story in the comment section below!

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Here at Family Tree Video, we produce Legacy Videos, modern-day memoirs that weave a filmed interview with a parent or grandparent together with family photos, documents, maps and other memorabilia. The result is a beautiful “moving portrait” capturing your loved one as they recount their life story, family history and memories – a gift your family will treasure for generations to come.

Your stories are too important to leave to memory. Capture them in a Legacy Video for your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to know.

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Susan Saunders
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What is a Daguerreotype
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What is a Daguerreotype

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