Photographer Research – Julia Margaret Cameron

Posted: March 19, 2014 in Portrait - Identities - Culture & Self
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Julia Margaret Cameron was a British photographer. She became known for her portraits of celebrities of the time, and for photographs with Arthurian and other legendary or heroic themes.

 

“I longed to arrest all the beauty that came before me and at length the longing has been satisfied.” – Julia Margaret Cameron

Cameron’s photographic career was short, spanning eleven years of her life (1864–1875). She took up photography at the relatively late age of 48, when she was given a camera as a present. Although her style was not widely appreciated in her own day, her work has had an impact on modern photographers, especially her closely cropped portraits.

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At the time, photography was a labour-intensive art that also was highly dependent upon crucial timing. Sometimes Cameron was obsessive about her new occupation, with subjects sitting for countless exposures in the blinding light as she laboriously coated, exposed, and processed each wet plate. The results were, in fact, unconventional in their intimacy and their particular visual habit of created blur through both long exposures, where the subject moved and by leaving the lens intentionally out of focus.

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One of the reasons that many of Cameron’s portraits are significant is because they are often the only existing photograph of historical figures, becoming an invaluable resource.

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The main thing I take away from Cameron’s images is to maybe experiment a little with different techniques, i.e. blurring etc. Also, the way Cameron  used natural light to light the faces of her subjects is very beautiful. Shadows are very prominent and that’s another thing I’d like to try and play with in my own work. The photographs aren’t entirely to my taste, as the subjects seem soulless to me. The whole idea of portraiture to me is trying to show people’s emotions, but these photographs don’t show anything other than what people looked like in those days, to me.

 

Sources:

http://www.masters-of-photography.com

http://www.victoriaspast.com

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