Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879)

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815–1879)

Julia Margaret Cameron was a British Photographer born in Calcutta, India. She moved to London in 1868 with her husband. Julia started her photographic career only at the age of 48, when she was given a camera as a present by her daughter. She soon became a member of the Photographic Societies of London and Scotland, whose member she remained for the rest of her life.

In 1860 she visited the Isle of Wight, where her family soon moved, charmed by the beauty of the place; they called their new home Dimbola Lodge. Nowadays, Dimbola Lodge is a Museum and Gallery dedicated to Julia Margaret Cameron's life and work, which also showcases contemporary photographic exhibitions. 

 All images courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program. Click the image for full caption.

She is mostly known for soft-focused close-up portraits of her friends and family as well as the celebrities of her times. Her house, Dibola, was a gathering place for artists, writers and poets of the 19th century and a workplace for Julia, where the majority of her work was created. She used the wet plate collodion photographic process to make albumen-silver prints from wet collodion glass plate negatives. She was avoiding sharp, realistic detail in her photographs in order to create more dreamlike and feelings evoking portraits, inspired by famous works of literature, mythology and the Bible. For that purpose she also used to dress up and pose her sitters.

Cameron moved back to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1875, where she was trying to continue her photographic passion, limited however by the difficulty of obtaining chemicals necessary for development of her photographs. She died in Ceylon in 1879.

 All images courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program. Click the image for full caption.

Internet resources about Julia Margaret Cameron and her work:

  • Collection of her work at Getty Images
  • Julia Margaret Cameron: Complete Photos by Julian Cox, Colin Ford, Joanne Lukitsh, Philippa Wright – a book about the life and work of Julia Margaret Cameron available to download for free at Getty Publications Virtual Library
  • Collection of articles on V&A Website in relation to upcoming exhibition marking the bicentenary of the artist's birth. Also includes an insightful article about Cameron's working methods
  • Website of Dimbola Lodge, which was the home of the Julia Margaret Cameron. It is now a Museum and Gallery dedicated to her life and work.
  • Unseen photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron on digital display in 2014 - National Media Museum Blog