I'd like to bring to your attention an article by Jim Lewis on slate.com, which concerns the significance of Niepce's first photograph.
To whet your appetite:
"Photography is different this way, too: Unlike, say, landscape painting or novel-writing, taking pictures is something that most people do as a matter of course. So it's unique among the fine arts in being split between a perfectly demotic practice and a rarified aesthetic one. (Granted, lots of people dance, but not en pointe.) But not all of us make art out of the pictures we take; most of us don't even try. Which raises an obvious question about Niépce's photo: Is it a good picture? A great picture?"...
May we all have a thoughtful and productive New Year.