Ten Photography Facts That Will Leave You Bamboozled!

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

This isn't your usual list that gives some boring old historical dates and happenings.


Read further to learn some intriguing facts relating to the field of photography that will make you snap!


1. The most-liked photo on Instagram is of an egg.


You read it right. One would think it's something as grand as a dragon's egg, but noooo!

It's just a plain lil egg against a white backdrop.


The image, originally taken by Shutterstock contributor Serghei Platanov in 2015, was posted to Instagram by advertising specialist Chris Godfrey specifically to garner the highest number of likes on any Instagram post.


At the time of writing, the egg has more than 54.5 million likes, and the count is still rising!

2. There are cameras on the moon.


This isn't a conspiracy theory, milord.


The moon’s surface houses 12 Hasselblad cameras that were left there during the first moon landing on the Apollo 11 mission to make room for the rock samples to be brought back.

They lie there to this day.


3. People didn't smile for photographs in the Victorian Era.



If you ever take a look at portraits from the Victorian Era, you'll notice haunting hollow faces in the photographs. Seems as if they were just a bunch of grumpy folks getting clicked at a gunpoint.


But, there's a reason behind them not smiling.


Old photographs were taken with huge large format cameras. Because the technology wasn’t as advanced, an image would take hours to expose correctly. The shortest method (the daguerreotype method) lasted fifteen minutes.


The subjects didn’t smile because they had to stay still for hours for one photo. Taking a photo also often involved the use of a head brace for support. Let's just say that's not the most comfortable experience to go through.


Even the Joker couldn't have been able to hold a smile in such a scenario!


Now that we're on the topic, another fun fact. Most of the time mothers had to sit all covered and disguised as chairs holding their babies.


4. Most popular subjects of portraits in the 1800s were corpses.



Welp, now we know another reason for our ancestors not smiling in old photos. They were probably dead.


In the picture above, the youngest child has died and is propped against a stand.


Seems like something that would make the perfect possession for a horror movie, doesn't it?


It gets more disturbing.


On some occasions eyes would be painted on to the photograph after it was developed, which was meant to make the deceased more lifelike, while other times death was more obvious.


As the number of photographers increased, the cost of daguerreotypes fell. Death portraiture became increasingly popular. Victorian nurseries were plagued by measles, diphtheria, scarlet fever, rubella - all of which could be fatal.


It was often the first time families thought of having a photograph taken. This was a way to record the memory and physical appearance of the deceased family member.


5. The first selfie was taken 181 years ago.



To think that the origination of selfie happened only recently with the advent of social media.


This self-portrait was taken in 1839 by an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast from Philadelphia named Robert Cornelius.


Setting up his camera at the back of the family store in Philadelphia, Cornelius took the image by removing the lens cap and then running into frame where he sat for a minute before covering up the lens again. On the back of the image, he wrote "The first light Picture ever taken. 1839."


6. Most viewed photograph in world history is a stock photo.



If this image doesn't open a floodgate of nostalgia for you, you're too young, mate.


This iconic default wallpaper of Windows XP was captured by Charles O’Rear in 1996 when he pulled his car up somewhere along Sonoma Highway in California to snap his shot on the way to see his girlfriend.


He initially sold it to Westlight for use as a stock photo titled Bucolic Green Hills. Westlight would be bought by Corbisin 1998, who digitized its best selling images.


Two years following the acquisition, Microsoft's design team selected images to be used as wallpapers in Windows XP. The image would eventually be chosen as the default wallpaper, resulting in the company acquiring the image and renaming it to Bliss.


7. The first photograph ever taken of a person was accidental.


In 1828, Louis Daguerre took the first photo that captured a human being. His intended to take a photo of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris. The man in his photo was standing in the street, getting his shoes polished. Since the exposure lasted for seven minutes, the man also got captured.



8. You can develop film reels with coffee.


Nope, we're not kidding. This isn't one of those doomed-to-fail hacks.

Caffenol is a real thing!


All you need is some coffee, vitamin C, and washing soda to develop your black and white negatives.


The first two ingredients bind together to form a developer. The washing soda adds alkalinity to the solution, allowing you to develop images.


The image below is a 35 mm film developed in caffenol.



9. A whole building was used as a camera to capture the world's largest photograph.


“The Great Photograph” is the largest seamless print photograph taken in a single exposure. It was created by turning an old military airplane hangar into a pinhole camera, thereby making it the largest camera in the record.


The team of six artists with the help of 400 assistants made extensive modifications to the hangar to ensure it was as dark as possible. Once the hangar was void of light, the canvas was hung 55 feet from a 6mm pinhole in the hangar wall and was left to expose for 35 minutes.


The finished print is 111 feet wide and 32 feet high with an area of 3,505.75 square-foot.



10. Flash, back in the day, often led to explosions.



Turns out, photography wasn't as pleasant as it is today. It was quite a life threatening job.


The first flashes were mini-explosions of a mix of potassium chloride and aluminum. Unfortunately, with such materials, photo-taking attempts often led to violent explosions, especially when mixed in wrong proportions.

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