Gustave Le Gray

Jean-Baptiste Gustave Le Gray (August 30, 1820 – July 30, 1884) has been called "the most important French photographer of the nineteenth century" because of his technical innovations in the medium of photography, his role as the teacher of other noted photographers, and the extraordinary imagination he brought to picture making.

He was originally trained as a painter, studying under François-Édouard Picot and Paul Delaroche, before crossing over to photography in the early years of its development. Le Gray made his first daguerreotypes by 1847. His early photographs included portraits, scenes of nature such as Fontainebleau Forest, and buildings such as châteaux of the Loire Valley.

He taught photography to students such as Charles Nègre, Henri Le Secq, Nadar, Olympe Aguado, and Maxime Du Camp. In 1851 he became one of the first five photographers hired for the Missions Héliographiques to document French monuments and buildings. In that same year he helped found the Société Héliographique, the "first photographic organisation in the world".