Cameron was a latecomer to photography; she would not begin to photograph
until she was 48 years old. Her son-in-law had given her a camera in
the hope that it would give her a creative outlet, as her husband was
busy overseeing their coffee plantations and her children were all grown.
Photography would become her passion and profession for the remainder
of her life.
Her work consisted primarily of portraits, often allegorical and illustrative images of her family and friends, sometimes with biblical or literary themes. In this sense her work related closely to that of the Pre-Raphaelites. Cameron was a believer in Transcendentalist thought, which maintained that "individual will and the love of beauty could make the invisible visible." This idea comes through in her work, where she hoped to capture the very essence of her sitters on film.
One of Cameron's primary aims was to aid in the elevation of photography to a high art. Although much of her artistic portraiture concentrated on allegorical images, some of her best known works are images of the Victorian elite, with whom she associated. Prominent figures that she photographed included Alfred Tennyson, Sir John Herschel, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
The style and subject matter of Cameron's work would be rediscovered and re-evaluated at the turn of the century by the Pictorialists, whose aim was also the elevation of photography to a high art. Her work was a precursor to the movement that would forever change the field of photography.
All images are copyright by the artist or by UC Regents, 1999, all rights reserved.