Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Artist of the Day: Julia Margaret Cameron

A few years ago I saw an awesome exhibit at the Met on photography pioneers and I was particularly struck by the photos of Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1849). At the age of 48 Cameron received a camera as a gift and soon began taking photos of her friends, family, and acquaintances, many of whom were prominent in Victoria society. Makes me want to get out my real camera (with film!!)

From the MetCameron's technique was unorthodox. She purposely avoided the perfect resolution and minute detail that glass negatives permitted, opting instead for carefully directed light, soft focus, and long exposures (counted in minutes, when others did all they could to reduce exposure times to a matter of seconds). No commercial portrait photographer of the 1860s, for instance, would have portrayed Sir John Herschel (1792–1871)—the nation's preeminent scientist and mathematician, considered the equal of Sir Isaac Newton—as Cameron did in 1867 (below).

All photos by Julia Margaret Cameron.

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