Julia Margaret Cameron

Born: Calcutta, India, 1815
Died: Sri Lanka, India, 1879

Julia Margaret Cameron was born in June 1815 in Calcutta, India. Considered as the ugly duckling in a family where beauty was greatly celebrated, she was described by her niece Virginia Woolf as the one who had talent. She was educated in France, and only returned to India in 1838 when she married Charles Hay Cameron. In 1863, her daughter offered her first camera. Within a year she became a member of the Photographic Society of London and Scotland.

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

David Wilkie Wynfield helped her and taught her basic techniques of soft focus.

She was famous for asking her models to sit for hours during the photo-shoot. Many of her pictures are recognizable by the blur created by the movements of her models during long exposures, as well as her pictures where the subject is slightly out of focus.

She was very inspired by the pre-Raphaelite art of which we can recognize the far away looks, and the soft lighting of her pictures.

Cameron was sometime ridiculed, as not anyone admired her work but she could rely on a supportive family and was a very prolific artist.

She registered each of her photographs with the copyright office that enabled her work to survive in time.

Her most famous set of work is composed of closely framed portraits and illustrative allegories based on religious and literary pictures.

As her sister ran an artistic scene at the Little Holland House, she met many famous persons that would then pose for her – Charles Darwin, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, George Frederic Watts and many more.

In 1875 she moved back to Ceylan (today Shri Lanka) but he worked was slowed down as chemicals were hard to find, and she didn’t have the contacts she had back in London.

When her husband retired, they moved back to London

She died in January 1879 in Kalutara, Ceylan after she caught a bad chill.

Julia Margaret Cameron Biography

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Written by Marine Lazarus

Marine Lazarus, an Anglo-French photographer who moved to UK 3 years ago to study journalism at Brunel University in London. Marine is responsible for our Photographers Biographies section.

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