Jules Lion was a free black photographer from France that entered New Orleans around the late 1830’s. Although he started as a lithographer, he introduced a special type of portrait that was new to the United States called Daguerrean photography. This was the first type of photography in the country before more advanced exposures were created. Because this was a new picture-taking process from overseas, some believe Lion’s work gave birth to photography in the United States, especially among blacks. He was one of the first blacks to be known as a Daguerrean photographer, which spread to other budding black photographers quickly (like James Presley Ball) and throughout the country.
Lion’s story in New Orleans began in the late 1830’s as a lithographer, but around 1837, he was driven back to France for a year with the declining economy to sharpen his photography skills under the method of Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre – the originator of the Daguerrean method.