Historic Portrait – research

Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-79)

  • one of the first female portraitists
  • called herself an ‘artistic photographer’
  • saw photography as an artistic pursuit rather than a science in contrast with many of her peers at the time.
  • used themes and soft focus to make ‘arty’ images.
  • posed her sitters, more than just an image of their likeness.
  • wanted to make beautiful images

As a female photographer, I thought I would look at other female portrait photographers. Some of the one mentioned were:

  • Annie Leibovitz (1949 – )*
  • Berenice Abbot (1898 – 1991)
  • Cindy Sherman ((1954 – )*
  • Diane Arbus (1923 – 1971)*
  • Dorethea Lange (1895 – 1965)*
  • Francesca Woodman (1958 – 1981)*
  • Gerd Taro (1910 -1937)
  • Helen Levitt (1913 – 2009)
  • Imogen Cunningham (1883 – 1876)
  • Margaret Bourke-Whitel (1904 – 1971)
  • Mary Ellen Mark (1940 – 2015)
  • Sally Mann (1951 – )*
  • Susan Meiselas (1948 – )
  • Tina Modotti (1896 – 1942)
  • Vivian Maier (1926 – 2009)*
  • = denotes, I have heard of them before

Article by The Vampire’s Wife: https://thevampireswife.com/blogs/stuff/julia-margaret-cameron-mysterious-children

Finding Vivian Maier

A documentary film made by John Maloof who unwittingly bought a box of her negatives at an auction on 2007, whilst trying to find items for a history book he was writing.

Since then he has championed her work and tried to find out about her. The film was fascinating, but what really struck me, there was a lot of conversation about why she didn’t want to share her work whilst she was alive. I’m of the opinion she didn’t want to and what’s more, she probably couldn’t have taken the images she did, had she been known for her work. Being a Nanny probably gave her the best opportunity to acquire the images she did, the lack personal ties and the opportunity to get out with a couple of kids, where no one would look at her twice, gave her the perfect opportunity to continue with what appears to be an obsession to take photos of people and their lives.

The images have a very authentic feel to them and the fact that she was using a twin-lens Rolleiflex camera at waste height, means that many of her portraits give the subject a powerful feel.

Interesting, one of the photographers reviewing Vivian’s work in the film was Mary Ellen Mark.