And today we will talk about Julia Margaret Cameron, a British photographer of the Victorian era.
Many photographers of the time criticized her work for unprofessionalism, and artists, on the contrary, praised her and called her a colleague.
And why there were such different assessments of Mrs. Cameron’s work, read under the cat.
In the title photo is a portrait of the heroine of this post.
But before I start talking about the woman photographer, you need to understand what stage of development photography was at that time.
So, in 1800, Thomas Wedgwood was the first to experiment with capturing photographic images on light-sensitive material.
And in 1822, Joseph Nicephorus Niepce invented heliography, the first known photographic process to create sustainable images.
That is, the 19th century was the very beginning of photography.
Julia Margaret Cameron was born in 1815 in Calcutta during the British colonization of India. In 1848 she moved to England with her husband and six children.
The family lived on the Isle of Wight, where Julia Margaret was slowly depressed by the provincial lifestyle.
Julia’s life will change at the age of 48, when she will receive a special gift – one of her daughters will give her a wooden camera.
Vigorously and enthusiastically, she began to master the laborious wet collodion process, turning the chicken coop into a workshop and the coal pantry into a photo lab.
As soon as Julia looked into the lens for the first time, she was inspired. Beginning to engage in portrait photography in 1863, she changed this art form forever.
She herself spoke about that period as follows: “As soon as I began to set up the camera with a passionate passion, she became alive to me, she had her own voice, memory and creative energy.”
At the dawn of the development of photography, the poser was forced to sit motionless for a long time to make the picture clear. Therefore, the portraits turned out strict and official. Photography was a science rather than an art, and photographers sought to obtain the most detailed image – a reliable “reflection of life.”
So Julia Cameron’s models had to pose without moving for up to 10 minutes.
And then Julia began to act differently. She allowed the models to move and captured random moments of happiness and expressive blurred shots.
She wanted to capture people’s emotions, so the photos came alive, like dream scenes.
It was more important for Julia to show a person’s character with the help of non-standard techniques than to create a dry, clear photograph. She violated all existing laws, and historians argue that she was aware of this. She wanted to tell stories with her pictures, she pushed the boundaries of photography as an expressive art form.
Coming from high society, Julia was well-read, well versed in literature, history and mythology. With the help of photography, she created illustrations for her favorite works: she dressed models in Shakespearean clothes, medieval crowns and biblical costumes and came up with interesting poses for them.
With enthusiasm and boundless inspiration, she photographed famous artists and scientists, including Charles Darwin:
English astronomer and physicist John Herschel:
British writer Thomas Carlyle. This picture is very typical for the Cameron technique – the photo is out of focus, and the plate cracked in spots:
Portrait of Henry Toby Prinsep – English official of the Indian civil service and historian of India. He later became involved in politics:
She photographed her family, staff and was even known for harassing strangers on the street until they agreed to pose for her on camera.
And one day Julia dressed her family in angel costumes and made them pose with stuffed swans.
In 1874, Alfred Tennyson invited Julia Margaret Cameron to create photo illustrations for his popular series of poems about King Arthur’s Royal Idylls. She readily agreed. Her characters from literary works resembled oil paintings. In her best works, she literally revived the heroes of plays and poetic works.
I found three photos of this cycle.
The photographer’s career lasted only eleven years (from 1864 to 1875). During this time, Julia has created a huge array of works, consisting of more than 1,200 photographs.
Soft focus in her images was regarded by contemporaries as technical errors, so Cameron found greater recognition among Pre-Raphaelite artists than among photographers.
But today’s critics believe that her work has made a significant contribution to photography.
Nowadays, Julia Cameron’s works are exhibited in the world’s largest museums, and she is remembered as a woman who stood at the origins of a new art form.
And as a woman photographer who told stories through photographs.