Archive for January 28th, 2013

Cameron_Julia_Margaret_Iago_Study_from_an_ItalianA few months ago, I posted one of my favorite photos, Sadness, from the  British Victorian era photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.  I was struck by the contemporary feel and presence of the photo taken of the actress Ellen Terry in 1864.  It had a naturalness that was unlike much of the photography that we think of from that era, making me feel that it could be a photo from any time.

I recently came across another of Cameron’s photos that hit me in very much the same way.  It is an 1867 study of a young Italian man,  Angelo Colarossi, portraying Iago, the betrayer of Shakespeare’s Othello.  With downcast eyes, his unshaven face fills the frame and you don’t see any props to give away his character.  It may be betrayal that fills his face but for me it is more along the lines of Judas than Iago.  There seems to be remorse and even a bit of Christlike genuflection in his downward gaze.

Like Cameron’s Sadness, this piece has a freshness that makes it feel out of time.   It is a document of emotion that crosses time.  Cameron had a real knack for capturing the universal and eternal in her work, when all others were capturing stiff, glassy-eyed portraits in her own time.  For me, I use Cameron’s work as reminder of the quality that I want in my own work, that universal and timeless appeal, even though our methods and materials and eras are so different.

Just a great photo.

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