The first travel photographer

Pierre-Gustave-Gaspard Joly Lotbinière

The year 1839 was a milestone for Photography. That time  was in Paris a truly imaginative guy, Mr Pierre-Gustave-Gaspard Joly who had married a wealthy aristocrat in Canada and added to his name the surname of his wife, de Lotbinière.

Pierre-Gustave was an exceptional traveler for his time. His family was involved in the wine trade, and from his youth had traveled to different countries to find new markets and to make new agreements. First in Europe, from Switzerland where he was born, to France, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Russia, and across the Atlantic to South America,  the USA and Canada where in Montreal he met and married his wife Julie-Christine Chartier de Lotbinière.

athens first photos

In 1839 this well-traveled chap was in Paris planning a voyage to the Middle East. He learned about photography in Paris and the daguerreotype process that had just been announced to the French Academy of Science. Immediately, he supplied himself with all the necessary equipment by Noël Paymal Lerebours in order to take pictures of the antiquities of the places to which he would travel.

He arrived in Athens Greece via Malta and he was the first photographer to take photos of the Acropolis (The first photos of Athens). From there, he continued his journey on to Egypt and then to the Holy Lands, Syria and Turkey. On this trip he took 92 photos in total and some of them were published by Lerebours in his book ‘Excursions daguerriennes’ (1840-41) along with some others by the architect Hector Horeau in his book ‘Panorama from Egypt and Nubia’ (1841).

first travel photos

After this trip, it appears that he never took any more pictures again. The fascination with the invention of Photography led a lot of people to get involved in travel photography. Especially the French publishers, financed pionner photographers who had the desire to travel. The photos taken by Pierre-Gustave-Gaspard Joly in Athens, all suggest that they were the first travel pictures ever taken. On the journey that he continued after Greece he was accompanied by other photographers traveling in East for the same purpose. The first photographs of Athens and the Acropolis make Pierre-Gustave-Gaspard Joly the first travel photographer in the history of Photography.

One thought on “The first travel photographer

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