25 Timeless Julia Margaret Cameron Quotes to Bookmark

Looking for the best Julia Margaret Cameron quotes? You’ve come to the right place. Below we have listed 25 of the pioneering Victorian photographers best quotes to inspire you.

If you haven’t done so already, we recommend reading our Julia Margaret Cameron master profile article to learn more about her remarkable photography, glass-plate techniques, tableaus and much more.

Julia Margaret Cameron Quotes

My aspirations are to ennoble Photography and to secure for it the character and uses of High Art by combining the real and ideal and sacrificing nothing of the truth by all possible devotion to poetry and beauty.

The field in which photography has so great a power of expression that language can never approach it, is physiognomy.

If one believes as I do in the doctrine of compensation one soon accepts the evidence that God gives the material things of this world to some and the spiritual and intellectual riches to others and that the combination of gifts is very uncommon.

By sight and observation and thought, with the help of the camera, and the addition of the date of the year, we can hold fast the history of the world.

The camera has become to me, a living thing, with voice, memory and a creative vigour.

Beauty, you’re under arrest. I have a camera, and I’m not afraid to use it.

Julia Margaret Cameron Quotes 1

Cameron on Getting Started

Many and many a week in the year 1864, I worked fruitlessly, but not hopelessly… I began with no knowledge of the art. I did not know where to place my dark box, how to focus my sitter, and my first picture I effaced to my consternation by rubbing my hand over the filmy side of the glass.

From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour.

When we are angry or depressed in creativity, we have misplaced our power. We have allowed someone else to determine our worth, and we are then angry at being undervalued.

The need to be a great artist makes it hard to be a great artist. The need to produce a great work of art makes it hard to produce any art at all.

Experimentation, Happy Accidents and Focus

What is focus and who has the right to say what focus is the legitimate focus?

Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping.

A photographer, like all artists, is at liberty to employ what means he thinks necessary to carry out his ideas. If a picture cannot be produced by one negative, let him have two or ten; but let it be clearly understood, that these are only means to an end, and that the picture when finished must stand or fall by the effects produced, and not by the means employed.

I believe that… my first successes in my out-of-focus pictures were a fluke. That is to say, that when focusing and coming to something which, to my eye, was very beautiful, I stopped there instead of screwing on the lens to the more definite focus which all other photographers insist upon.

Art is born. Its midwife is detail.

Cameron on Portrait Photography Quotes

When I have had such men before my camera my whole soul has endeavoured to do its duty towards them in recording faithfully the greatness of the inner as well as the features of the outer man. The photograph thus taken has been almost the embodiment of a prayer.

I counted four hundred and five hundred and got one good picture. Poor Wilfrid said it was torture to sit so long, that he was a martyr! I bid him be still and be thankful. I said, I am the martyr. Just try the taking instead of the sitting!

Mortification is basic to the act of photographing. The person is mobile, … then I freeze one moment in his movement, a mere five-hundredth of a second of that person’s life-time. That’s a very meager or small extract from a life.

The capacity for delight, is the gift of paying attention.

The history of the human face is a book we don’t tire of if we can get its grand truths learn them by heart.

I longed to arrest all beauty that came before me, and at length the longing has been satisfied. Its difficulty enhanced the value of the pursuit.

Alice, Julia Margaret Cameron
Pomona, Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1872 © Victoria and Albert Museum

Storytelling and Historical Tableaus

People often believe the creative life is grounded in fantasy. The more difficult truth is that creativity is grounded in reality, in particular, the focused, the well observed or specifically imagined.

From days of old, and in all periods, we find documents and books with pictures illustrating them, but photography has presented us with new possibilities and new tasks. It can depict things in magnificent beauty, but also in terrible truth, and can also deceive enormously. We must be able to bear seeing the truth, but above all we should hand down the truth to our fellow human beings and to posterity, be it favorable to us or unfavorable.

What’s your Favorite Julia Margaret Cameron Quote?

Have a favorite Julia Margaret Cameron quote from the list? Let us know in the comment section below.

Don’t forget to bookmark this page, or print it out, and refer to it next time you need some inspiration. Also, don’t forget to share it with others through the usual channels (social media, forums, websites, etc).

To learn more about Cameron’s photography, we recommend reading our Julia Margaret Cameron master profile article. To see more of her remarkable photography, check out the Cameron image archive at the Victoria and Albert Museum website.

Looking for more words of wisdom from master photographers? Visit the quotes section of Photogpedia for more great photography quotes.

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Founder of Photogpedia.com. Photography enthusiast, occasional filmmaker, part-time writer and full-time dreamer. Rediscovered photography in 2012 and have been trying to level up my photography skills since (I'm getting there) #chasingthecreative

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