Joseph Nicephore Niepce, French inventor, early 19th century.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The world's first photograph was taken by Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1765-1833) in 1826; he used a camera obscura to project an image on to a sheet of pewter coated with bitumen. It took eight hours for a blurred image to form. Niepce called his invention a Heliograph, after the Greek 'of the Sun'.