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Whether you’re a professional photographer or just someone who likes pointing and shooting for fun, today is especially for you – it’s World Photography Day!

Today is a day for those of us who spend our days, camera in hand, in pursuit of what my all-time favourite photographer, the Frenchman Henri Cartier-Bresson, termed ‘the decisive moment’.
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August 19th was selected for World Photography Day as this is the day that the Daguerreotype process was released to the world. The Daguerreotype, a process whereby a direct positive image is created in the camera on a silvered copper plate, was the first commercially successful photographic process, and was developed by Louis Daguerre together with Joseph Nièpce. Nièpce died in 1833 before it was completed, but Daguerre continued refining the process to improve the exposure time requirements and to make the fixing of the image more effective (to prevent darkening of the image over time).

The refined daguerreotype process was announced by the French Academy of Sciences on 9 January 1839. Daguerre did not patent the invention, instead choosing to hand over his rights to the French government in exchange for a lifetime pension. The agreement was further that the government would present the daguerreotype process as a ‘gift to the world’ – this happened on 19 August 1839, when details about the process was released into the public domain.

In the same year, William Fox Talbot announced his silver chloride ‘sensitive paper’ process. With both these landmark events taking place in 1939, this is generally regarded as the year photography was born.

But getting back to World Photography Day 2012 – this year marks the first World Photography Day competition and with $12,000 worth of prizes to be won, it’s well worth investigating. Submissions can be uploaded between 19 and 22 August, so don’t delay, check it out now.

Happy shooting, everybody!

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