One of the earliest photographs I’ve ever seen of a carpenter at work is held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and attributed to William Henry Fox Talbot, a British inventor and early photographer.
Check out the full image here.
Jeff Burks, who pointed me to the image, suspects it might be the earliest photograph of a carpenter/joiner. If you know of an earlier one, send us a note.
Of note in the photograph:
1. These early “calotypes” were staged because the exposure time could be extremely long (by modern standards). Hence the blurry face of the carpenter. The apprentice, however, held quite still. Because of the staging, I wouldn’t make too much of the workholding method (“Here boy, hold this board”).
2. This photo clearly answers a burning question: Should you store a plane on its side or on its sole? The answer: On its toe.
3. It’s nice to see the traditional three-finger grip on the saw’s tote. The saw looks fairly aggressive, more like a ripsaw, to me.
In any case, be sure to visit the Met’s site and zoom around the photo. There are some nice details. However, I wish it were a daguerreotype.
— Christopher Schwarz