Julia Margaret Cameron was an Englishwoman who was born in Calcutta, India on 11th June 1815. Although educated in France and England she did not settle in her homeland until 1848. Her interest in photography did not emerge until she was 50, when her daughter gave her a large box camera as a present. It used the current materials of the time, the wet collodion process. In order to prepare and process the huge 15 X 10 inch plates, she converted the coal house of her cottage home into a darkroom and the nearby chicken house into a daylight studio. She did not even have the luxury of running water and had to fetch water from the well to wash her negatives.
In common with most of her contemporaries, Julia Cameron was a self-taught amateur who learned her craft by a combination of trial and error and determination. Unlike many of the professional portrait photographers of the time, her work possessed a free and almost simplistic quality. Her subjects ranged from the local people of her village on the Isle of Wight to the famous characters of the day, including Alfred Lord Tennyson. She was a wealthy woman and was able to indulge her hobby, making many hundreds of large prints which she frequently gave to sitters and friends as well as submitting to many exhibitions. In 1875, she and her husband Charles Hay Cameron settled in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), where they lived in a house by the sea, and she continued her photography, mostly with the natives as subjects. Julia Margaret Cameron died on 26th January 1879 having made a memorable contribution to the new medium of photography.
Major collections of her work can be seen at the Royal Photographic Society and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.