Oxford School of Photography

insights into photography

‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty’

This article is from an Oxford photographer and friend who understands why we love photography and expresses it so beautifully. I doubt you can read this essay and not want to look up the images mentioned



Two decades ago, when I first became interested in photography, one of my heroes was Julia Margaret Cameron. She was not fashionable, and is still derided in some quarters for her idiosyncratic approach to the medium — her soft focus, the ‘faults’ in her images, her refusal to retouch. But I loved all the supposed imperfections, along with her sculptural use of light and the stunning humanity of some of her portraits.

At that time, as now, Cameron’s work was not widely exhibited, but I learnt from a Virago profile of the photographer, by Amanda Hopkinson, that the Ashmolean Museum owned a small collection of prints. I made an appointment, went along to the print room, and was handed a pair of white gloves and a box of photographs over 100 years old. How simple it is sometimes to take a small step into a world you thought was closed…

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