Daguerreotype portrait of two ladies and a gentleman, c 1850.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Daguerreotype photography was one of the two pioneering photographic proceses announced in 1839, along with William Henry Fox Talbot's (1800-1877) calotypes. Daguerreotypes were images produced as direct positives on sensitised metal plates. The proces involved long exposure times and produced only one image. Despite the amazing detail the daguerreotypes produced, the delicate surfaces meant they had to be encased behind glas and it proved not to be a practical photographic method.