Among Tesla’s legacy there is a total of 976 photographic prints which show Tesla’s inventions and laboratories. Apart from these photographs, which were Tesla’s own documentation, there is a large number of photographs showing Tesla himself or his relatives, friends and admirers. There is also a small number of photographs about whose subjects no information has yet been found.
Some motifs appear repeatedly in many photographs, and the oldest dated photographs come from Tesla’s schooldays – the late 1870s. It is possible that some photographs are even older but there is no verifiable data on this. The last photograph kept by Tesla was taken in 1942.
Tesla was photographed on various occasions. He often engaged the services of photographic shops and studios. He appears to have been careful in his choice of photographers and used the services of various photographic shops for particular types of photographs, according to their specializations. The majority of Tesla’s portraits from various periods of his life were photographed by the New York studio Saroni, renowned for its photographic portraits of famous figures.
The earliest photograph of Tesla which is preserved has the trademark of the Henri Dupont photographic studio in Paris. Tesla lived in Paris from 1882 to 1884. However, it is not clear when the young Tesla was photographed. This photograph was published as an illustration for an article by Tesla in Electrical Experimenter magazine in 1919.
As well as portraits, Tesla often commissioned photographs of his laboratory or experiments in progress. Even today, in the age of digital photography and digital photographic editing, these photographs attract the attention of observers.