Julia Margaret Cameron
b. 1815 d. 1879
One of my favorite ladies ever is Julia Margaret Cameron. What’s also cool about her is her great-niece is Virginia Woolf, who is one of my favorite authors.
So, why is she remembered in the history or photography? She took it up later in life, when she was 48 years old, when her daughter gifted her a camera. Her work was mostly portraits of family and even famous figures, like Charles Darwin and her neighbor, Alfred Lord Tennyson (who brought people to Cameron’s house to view her work– what a pal!) She was most definitely the best “amateur” of her time, but man, I wouldn’t label someone with her success as such. She made sure to copyright all of her photos– hardly amateur, my dear Watson.
Cameron’s signature was soft focusing, which was pretty helpful considering one of her many goals was to capture beauty. Nothing says pretty like soft focus portraiture of pretty ladies. Another thing she is known for is using her maid (Mary Hillier) frequently as a subject in her illustrative work.
Cameron was really into creating scenes from history or literature, like her piece Ophelia, Study no 2. Because of their softness, they’ve been oftentimes compared to oil paintings. So, the painterly-ness of her images and how she constructed images based on narrative, they are dubbed illustrations.
She really enjoyed the concept of a woman’s choice between life or love. Morbid much? That’s Victorian for you.
Julia Margaret Cameron is a staple in photographic history, and it is special to note that she is a woman– it’s rare for women in the past to be credited in the world of art, and Cameron is one of the first “famous” female photographers, like Jane Martha St. John and Constance Fox Talbot, and even they aren’t mentioned as much as Cameron. So my lady here must have been super duper epic– well, it’s obvious she was.
Cameron is my gurl, and I only wish I could use soft focusing as well as she did. Don’t forget this lady, because she is truly a treasure.
So enough of my gushing over Cameron. Next PotD will be Rineke Dijkstra, another one of my favorite ladies.