August 19 is World Photo Day, an international celebration of photography and the rich history of the art.
Now, haters might say that photography these days is all about snapping selfies on your iPhone, but it turns out that selfies have been around for about 177 years.
According to the Library of Congress, a Philadelphia resident named Robert Cornelius took the oldest-known portrait of a person in American history way back in 1839.
Louis Daguerre, perhaps the father of photography as we know it today, had only unveiled his daguerreotype invention earlier that year. Cornelius, a lamp maker by trade who would go on to become a photography pioneer in his own right, was inspired.
Cornelius took his camera into the yard behind his family store for better lighting, and then posed for a self-portrait, which turned out pretty good, all things considered.
It was a far cry from the modern selfie stick, and for good reason — early daguerreotype photographs required up to 15 minutes of exposure time. That’s a really long time to hold out your arm for the perfect pic.
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