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Though Julia Margaret Cameron’s contemporaries dismissed her work as “amateur,” she is now recognized as one of the most original and significant portraitists of our time.

Consider her the Annie Leibovitz of her day. Cameron started her career fairly late in life (48) when her daughter and son-in-law thought she needed a hobby and gifted her a camera.



As a woman in the mid to late 1800s, Cameron found that models were hard to come by and thus resorted to her family and friends whom she lovingly called her “victims.”


Her family tree is full of stars:

  • Her maternal grandfather, Chevalier Antoine de l'Etang, was a page and possible lover of Marie Antoinette.
  • Her great-niece was Virginia Woolf.
  • Her niece was Lady Henry Somerset (née Lady Isabella Caroline) who was a champion of women’s rights and successfully separated from her husband for being gay and won custody of their son.

And her home was teeming with equally famous friends:


  • Astronomer Sir John Herschel
  • Author Charles Dodson aka Lewis Carroll
  • Scientist Charles Darwin
  • Artist John Everett Millais

Clearly, the Cameron house was the place to party.


Her home on the Isle of Wight, Dimbola Lodge, is open to the public. A life-size Jimi Hendrix statue was erected (for stupid reasons: he performed there once) outside her home, infuriating locals.


Cameron was another victim to the patriarchy. Because she wasn't a man, her craft was considered a hobby and not something to take seriously - only now do we acknowledge her accomplishments. 


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron (née Pattle; 11 June 1815 – 26 January 1879) was a British photographer who is considered one of the most important portraitists of the 19th century. She is known for her soft-focus close-ups of famous Victorian men and women, for illustrative images depicting characters from mythology, Christianity, and literature, and for sensitive portraits of men, women and children.

After establishing herself first among Calcutta's Anglo-Indian upper-class and then among London's cultural elite, Cameron formed her own salon frequented by distinguished Victorians at the seaside village of Freshwater, Isle of Wight.

After showing a keen interest in photography for many years, Cameron took up the practice at the relatively late age of 48, after her daughter gave her a camera as a present. She quickly produced a large body of work capturing the genius, beauty, and innocence of the men, women, and children who visited her studio at Freshwater, and created unique allegorical images inspired by tableaux vivants, theatre, 15th-century Italian painters, and the work of her creative contemporaries. Her photography career was short but productive; she made around 900 photographs over a 12-year period.

Cameron's work was contentious in her own time. Critics derided her softly focused and unrefined images, and considered her illustrative photographs amateurish and hammy. However, her portraits of respected men (such as Henry Taylor, Charles Darwin, and Sir John Herschel) have been consistently praised, both in her own life and in reviews of her work since. Her images have been described as "extraordinarily powerful" and "wholly original", and she has been credited with producing the first close-ups in the history of the medium.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Julia Margaret Cameron