According to TIME
this is the first known photo of a United States Presidential Inauguration. The date was March 4, 1857 and James Buchanan was the newly elected President. As you can see from the image the Capitol building was still being worked on. That's how the photographer, John Wood, originally got the position of photographer. His title was “photographic draftsman” for the building of the Capitol. His role was expanded as needs grew.
The newest process in photography was called the wet collodion process
. Although it wasn't perfect it did offer photographers far more opportunities. This process in large part helped make this image possible.
To learn more about this image and the photographer CLICK HERE