Julia Margaret Cameron
In 1863, at the age of 48, Julia Margaret Cameron took up photography.
With her bold and sometimes closely cropped compositions, the English portrait photographer photographed her family, her neighbours on the Isle of Wight and some of the great figures of the Victorian era, like the astronomer John Herschel or the biologist Charles Darwin. She did not care about presenting the details, preferring a soft focus which was largely due to the small depth of field and long exposure times, ranging from three to seven minutes.
Cameron's images, with their mystical and sensual quality, were influenced by the aesthetics of the British Pre-Raphaelite movement, which admired the artistic purity of the early Italian artists. She photographed historical scenes and allegories, such as her illustrative photographs for Tennyson's book of poems, The Idylls of the King, in 1875, for which she took over two hundred images before deciding upon the final twelve.
In 1879, Cameron left us a body of work that was deeply sensitive and avant-garde and which was to influence the Pictorialist movement and its followers who would also try to raise photography to the level of the fine arts.