The camera loves you! (via NPR)
This shot may actually display the first ever snap of a human being. The photo, taken by the famous photography pioneer Louis Daguerre in 1838, is a view of the Boulevard du Temple, Paris, and it’s been stirring up quite the conversation over at NPR.org since it resurfaced on the blog The Hokumburg Goombah.
Update, Nov. 4: CNN is now weighing in on the debate too. Check out the video, and then share your thoughts with us: What do you think of the photo?
It’s possible that many people were wandering through this scene on that day, but due to the limited technology of the time, unless they stood still the camera would have missed them entirely. Only two shadowy figures show up in the final frame. You can see a close-up rendering here. They are on the sidewalk, down on the lower left of the photo. One photo savvy, hawk-eyed reader who calls himself Hokumburg comments on The Homumberg Goombah, “To achieve this image (one of his earliest attempts), he exposed a chemically treated metal plate for ten minutes. Others were walking or riding in carriages down that busy street that day, but because they moved, they didn’t show up. Only this guy stood still long enough — maybe to have his boots shined — to leave an image.” (Check out Dennis Stock: Master Photographer.)
One theory could be that Daguerre staged the scene, positioned the man and asked him to remain perfectly still so that he could get at least one person in the shot. Far more likely, however, is that it was quite the accidental addition to an everyday street scene, meaning that this person surely had no idea of the place he would hold in the history of the recorded image.
Our own theory here at NewsFeed is that we have actually discovered the founding father of the paparazzi! (Check out TIME’s Ron Galella, King of the Paparazzi.)