Julia Margaret Cameron

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Cameron, Julia Margaret

(kăm`ərən), 1815–79, English pioneer photographer, b. Calcutta (now Kolkata). Born and married into the high ranks of the British civil service, Cameron became an intimate of many of the most famous people of her day. In 1863 she received the gift of a camera from one of her daughters and quickly became an ardent amateur photographer, upgrading her camera only three years later and using the difficult wet collodion process. Cameron demanded long, arduous sittings from her large circle of illustrious friends. She sought to illuminate the inner person of her subject, and her celebrated portraits, including those of Tennyson, Carlyle, Ellen Terry, Browning, Darwin, Trollope, and Longfellow, are remarkably spontaneous. She also pioneered the use of closeups, soft focus, and the darkroom manipulation of negatives and was a key figure in establishing the photographic portrait as a legitimate work of art. Some of her works were published as Victorian Photographs of Famous Men and Fair Women (rev. ed. 1973).

Bibliography

See C. Ford and J. Cox, Julia Margaret Cameron: The Complete Photographs (2003); biographies by B. Hill (1973), H. Gernsheim (1975), C. Ford (2003), and V. C. Olsen (2003).

Cameron, Julia Margaret

 

Born June 11, 1815, in India; died Jan. 26, 1879, in Ceylon. English portrait photographer.

Cameron took up photography in 1863. As an amateur, she lacked the technical perfection of many professional photographers. However, she surpassed them in her depth of understanding of a subject’s individuality. She was particularly successful in revealing strong, intense characters. Her subjects, most of whom were friends of her family, included C. Darwin, T. Carlyle, J. F. W. Herschel, H. W. Longfellow, R. Browning, and A. Tennyson. Cameron’s photographs were characterized by soft focus, gentle facial modeling, and a sparse setting. Most of her negatives were destroyed in a fire.