The photo above was most likely taken in the 19th century, in the early days of portrait photography. (For reference’s sake, the first U.S. president to sit for a photograph while in office was William Henry Harrison in 1841.) It was a long and painstaking process, as the subject had to hold still for the exposure period, which, on the short end of things, could be a few minutes long. Babies aren’t exactly known for their patience, so getting them to hold mostly still was, to say the least, tricky.
The solution: a creative frame and mat strategy combined with the one person most likely to keep the baby quiet — the child’s mother. While it appears, above, that the baby is lying on a floral print backdrop, that’s only partially the case. The backdrop is not just some cushion — it is actually his or her mom, sitting in a chair and hiding behind a blanket.
From the Archives: The First Photograph of a Person: Two people, actually — one is shining the other’s shoes.
Related: A cloak of invisibility. Just under $400 and it probably doesn’t work, so caveat emptor.