The Birth of Photography

The Birth of Photography

Is a photography exhibit at the R.E.M in Mannheim. 250 photos from the Helmut Gernsheim Collection are on display including the first ever photograph, a landscape photograph taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826. This exhibition is a collaborative undertaking between the Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen Mannheim and the Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas in Austin, which houses the historical part of the Gernsheim collection (which contains over 30000 photographs)


The First ever photograph.

The high light of the exhibit was a very rear chance to see a fantastic collection covering a long period in the history of photography including the first ever photograph (taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826).

Helmut Gernsheim spent years researching the history and location of the worlds first ever photograph. In 1952 Gernsheim discovered the long-lost world’s first permanent photograph, which looked more like an old up polished mirror.


Nicéphore Niépce created the photo with a camera obscura focused onto a 20 cm × 25 cm (7.9 in × 9.8 in) pewter plate coated with bitumen of Judea, a mixture similar to asphalt. The bitumen mixture hardened when exposed to the light, while the unexposed portions remained water soluble and could be washed away with a mixture of oil of lavender and white petroleum. As a result of the 8-hour exposure, sunlight illuminates the buildings on both sides.

Other stuff that caught my eye


Among all the fantastic photos there were of course a few that really captured my attention. It was quite an exciting feeling to walk around the corner and discover classic images that I had previously only seen in books or online.

 Henri Cartier-Bresson – Dimanche sur les bords de la Marne