Every photograph taken in natural light documents the end of an extraordinary journey. In order to reach the lens of your camera, sunlight must travel 150,295,500 kilometres; the distance between the core of our sun, where photons are formed, and the surface of Earth.
Scientists have calculated that the first 695,500 kilometres of this journey, from the Sun’s core to its own surface, takes around 100,000 years. From there it takes just 8 minutes and 20 seconds for these photons to travel the remaining 149,600,000 kilometres to Earth, where they are captured by your camera.
The photons which make up any photograph taken in natural light were formed towards the beginning of the Wisconsin glacial period, around the time homo sapiens first inhabited the Middle East. Interestingly, the raw materials used to create the oldest known cave paintings (which are approximately 32,000 years old) are far younger than the photons which were used to create any photograph ever taken in natural light!