Exhibitions: Julia Margaret Cameron

Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy; this exhibition was held to mark the 200th anniversary of her birth. Even though she had only been working in photography for 15 years she made an impact on the history of photography. She mostly took portraits of influential people but also took photographs of her celebrity friends, family, servants and also strangers. She also took a lot of influence from literature, basing her imagery on novels, and poems, in particular Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s 1787 novel Paul and Virginia, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Lord Alfred Tennyson’s poetry.

Image of the Julia Margaret Cameron: Influence and Intimacy exhibition taken from the Science Museums website. 


All the images shown in the exhibition were from The Herschel Album the original copy was displayed along side Cameron’s handwritten index of what was inside. When looking around the exhibition moving from plate to plate you can see how her work developed over time. Her portraits were the typical kind that you would have seen around the time as she used soft focus artistically; the critics of the time didn’t agree with this and put it down to her not being technically trained in photography. Cameron joined the Photography Society of London (now the Royal Photography Society) only 6 months after receiving her first camera as a present. She was a self-taught photographer who gained knowledge of the trade through trial and error.

It was really interesting looking at her work as I am currently looking at portraits for my on-going projects at the minute so it was interesting to see how Julia Margaret Cameron took them. They were very simple, she took away the background and props that were typically for the era and focussed on the sitters face. The soft focus that she used made the images look dream-like, especially those she took of children.


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