Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) was a British photographer who was consideredto be one greatest portrait photographers of the 19th century. However,she did face criticism at the time because of the way she treated photographyas a science as well as an art form by choreographing processes such as the wetcollodion process, a choice that caused critics to describe her work as beingbad photography.In this essay, I have chosen to analyse Julia Margaret Cameron’swork as she was briefly mentioned in previous lectures and is a photographer whoI have prior knowledge on. Cameron is also a photographer who inspires me notonly because of her work but because of her strong female presence in a timewhen women were not expected to have their own voice. I will discuss this ingreater detail throughout this essay while also evaluating a number ofCameron’s photographs.
Julia Margaret Cameron experimented with photography in1860 when she converted a coal shed into a dark room and the hen house into astudio. However, it was only in 1863 when she was gifted a sliding wooden box camerafor her 48th birthday, from her daughter and son in law that hercareer and passion for photography began. Within the year of 1864, Cameron joined the photographysocieties of Scotland and London. It was then within a month of receiving thecamera that Cameron’s photograph of her neighbours, daughter Annie became herfirst success. In this same year Cameron also began to register her photographsto the British Copyright Office. Overall, she copyrighted508 photographs between 1864-75.
She was the first photographer to take advantage of England’s Copyright Billof 1862 and this is why her photographs have lasted till today in goodcondition.To create her photographs Cameron used the most commonmethod at that time which was Albumen photography. This was a process that wasa lot more difficult, time consuming and hazardous then taking photographs inthe 21st century. It entailed using a bulky wooden camera whichwould sit on a tripod. This development required a glass plate, usually 12 x 10 inch to be coated with photosensitive chemicals in a darkroom and exposed in the camera when still damp. Afterwards, the glass negative would then return to the darkroom to be developed, rinsed and varnished. Prints were carefully made by placing the negative on to sensitised photographic paper and exposing it to sunlight. This was a very delicate process that easily created inaccuracy as the glass plate had to be clean and evenly coated throughout.
Cameronobsessed over this process and her new-found love for photography often gettingthe subjects of her photographs to sit for long periods of time for exposuresin bright light while she coated and processed each wet plate. This oftenresulted