August 19, 2013 by  

Daguerreotype, At Elements today, Michelle Nijhuis explores the history and inevitable demise of the earliest photographic images, from the nineteenth century. While primitive compared to today’s photographic techniques, the complexity of the daguerreotype process often resulted in images containing such a multitude of information that they emit what Nijhuis describes as an “eerie clarity.”

But daguerreotypes were not made to endure. As Nijhuis explains, only one per cent of the photographs created via the process are believed to survive, owing to destructive preservation techniques and natural contaminants that invade the surfaces of the images. Above is a selection of these artifacts. Click on the red arrows for a full-screen view.

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