World Photo Day is on August 19 and it celebrates the day when the French government purchased the patent for the daguerreotype process. The daguerreotype process is a photographic process that creates highly detailed images on a sheet of copper plate with a thin coat of silver. The day requires participants to share a photo of their world, which can be anything the photographer chooses. The definition of photography is quite literally “drawing the light” and British scientist Sir John Herschel came up with it in 1839. He used the Greek word phōtós, which means “light” and graphê which means “drawing or writing”.
History of World Photo Day
Louis Daguerre was born on November 18, 1787, in Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France. His family was middle-class and he grew up during a time of great political upheaval with the turmoil that was the French Revolution. The revolution involved the common people versus the bourgeoisie brought on by King Louis XVI’s poor economic policies. The poor wanted to improve their standard of living, and the ruling class wanted to hold onto the feudal regime. These events often affect the arts, as it inspires artists to create work that encapsulates the era, and for young Daguerre that was drawing.
In 1800, Despite having a limited formal education, Daguerre was a natural artist and at 13 he became apprenticed to an architect where he learned hands-on the mechanics of the art and the science of designing structures. This created the foundation for his understanding of how objects were built. Just four years later, Daguerre moved to Paris to study and practice scene painting for the opera.
In the early 1820s, Daguerre made a breakthrough. He and his fellow collaborator invented giant, translucent paintings illuminated to simulate movement and other effects and it was known as the diorama. Crowds would gather and watch these displays of landscapes and colors, but in the next decade, he fell on hard times and lapsed into bankruptcy because of the costliness of his invention.
Daguerre had known Joseph Nicéphore Niépce who had produced the world’s first permanent photograph in 1825 to incorporate into his dioramas. Niépce died in 1833 and Daguerre continued experimenting with photography and his dioramas. After combining chemicals and silver plates, he came up with the daguerreotype process and patented it in 1839 as a “gift to the world”.
After this bold union, photography continued to evolve and capture moments of our lives. In 2010, professional photographer Korske Ara, founded World Photo Day to inspire people to take photos that mean something to them.
World Photo Day timeline
World Photo Day is founded by Korske Ara to commemorate the patent of the daguerreotype process and to inspire others to take meaningful photos.
The French government patents for the daguerreotype process as a “gift to the world” from France.
After making a breakthrough with the invention of the diorama, Louis Daguerre lapsed into bankruptcy.
Young Louis Daguerre finds a love of the arts during the French Revolution and becomes an apprentice to an architect.
World Photo Day FAQs
Who is the best photographer in the world?
Brazilian social documentary photographer Sebastião Salgado is considered by many as the best photographer.
What is the best country for photography?
Morocco is considered the best country for photography because of the lively colors found there.
What job pays the most for photography?
Food photography pays the highest salary.
How To Celebrate World Photo Day
Take a photo of your world
World Photo Day is supposed to be about capturing your world. Take some time and really think about what exemplifies your world. Perhaps it’s something you’ve created with your hands or the love you have for your pet. Art is subjective so don’t be afraid to color outside the lines.
Learn about a famous photographer
There are so many photographers that have produced some of the most beautiful images in the world. Richard Avedon, Dorothea Lange, and Robert Frank are just some of the names who have shown their expert talents with photography. Research a photographer that moves you and learn their style.
Social media blitz
If you’re more of an appreciator of photos, you can check out the hashtag #WorldPhotoDay and see the photos your fellow global citizens have taken. When you come across photos that move you, share them and compliment the photographer. It’ll be sure to brighten their day.
5 Amazing Facts About World Photo Day
The first photo of the moon was taken in 1851.
Let them take pics
Daguerre's father named one of his daughters Marie Antoinette.
The dancing painter
When Daguerre went to Paris he was an extra on the stage of Paris' famed Opera and was known for his dancing skills.
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had a darkroom that they used to process photography.
The earliest known use of the abbreviated "photo" was from Queen Victoria in an 1860 letter.
Why We Love World Photo Day
Photography is an art form
The art of taking photos isn’t just pointing and clicking. There’s so much that goes into photography that shouldn’t be overlooked. The background, the flash, color, shutter speed, and more all need to come together in just the right way to evoke a truly moving piece of art. Taking a day to really commend all those who have devoted their lives to this craft.
Digital cameras on our smartphones have become customary, but that doesn’t mean we should take them for granted. When things are accessible, we lose sight of all the work that went into making them. Technology has evolved fast which means we need reminders to slow down.
A great photographer can make the mundane appear spectacular. Everyday objects can take on a deeper meaning depending on the eye of the photographer. This is a day to thank all those who see the beauty in unsuspecting things.
World Photo Day dates