The world’s first photograph made in a camera was taken in 1826, but we had to wait until the 1850s for the device to be used on dogs. We were pretty tickled to learn that the oldest known photograph of a canine was of a purebred dog. The photo (seen here) was a daguerreotype appropriately named, “Poodle with Bow on Table” taken by an unknown photographer. As an aside, daguerreotypes required a long exposure time since the process was a direct positive made in the camera on a silvered copper plate. It took the patience of Job not only to sit for a daguerreotype, but to take the picture.
By the second half of the 19th century, studio photographs of dogs in daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and cartes-des-visite (tiny pictures usually no larger than 2.5 by 4.5 inches in size) were taken more frequently, and it’s not unusual these days to find an rather old picture of a dog in original family collections, archives, and in private collections. As exposure times decreased, people started to bring their cats into photography studios. No word on how the dogs felt about that.
Back in 2012, the Kennel Club Art Gallery in Mayfair, London held an exhibition of vintage dog photographs, some of which you can see here. If you’re interested in the topic of pets in photography, you’ll also want to read Katherine C. Grier’s blog, The Pet Historian. And finally, you don’t want to miss even a day’s worth of posts from the folks at Vintage Dog A Day on Facebook, a remarkable collection of historical images of all manner of dog!
Image: In 2009, this photograph sold at Sotheby’s for $8,125