First Faked Photograph

The first faked photograph — by the true inventor of photography, an amateur French tinkerer named Hippolyte Bayard, made in protest. Via the Nonist:

This photograph, shot in 1840 and titled Self Portrait as a Drowned Man, is not of a drowned man, and if it had been it would be far less interesting or important. This humble image, so far as anyone knows, can claim all of the following honorifics- First instance of intentional photographic fakery. First photographic practical joke. First use of a photograph as propaganda / protest. And, quite possibly, a result of the world’s first reliable photographic process, direct positive or otherwise.

The image was shot by (and pictures) one Hippolyte Bayard. He was a French civil servant who, in his spare time, happened to invent his own method of reliably capturing photographic images on paper; an interesting fact considering, at the time, none other was known to exist, anywhere.

Hippolyte Bayard is not exactly a household name is it? More of a “buried in an unknown ditch on the other side of the Earth, who knows when or why, and basically forgotten” kind of name. It might have been otherwise, and during his lifetime, Mr. Bayard was well aware of that fact.

As it happens, after inventing his direct positive photographic process, Hippolyte was visited by one François Arago, who convinced him, using who knows what logic, to postpone making an announcement of his find to the French Academy of Sciences. As it turns out François Arago was a close personal pal of another fellow, who shortly thereafter made his own presentation to the members of the Académie des Sciences, by the name of Louis Daguerre. Ever heard of him? Yeah, thought so.

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