I was reading The Missing of the Somme by Geoff Dyer, and found this quote from John Updike: “Memory has a spottiness as if the film was sprinkled with developer instead of immersed in it.” A great image, although how long will it be before the darkroom reference becomes obscure?
There’s a great exhibit of Julia Margaret Cameron’s portraits currently at the Metropolitan Museum in NY. Her daughter and son-in-law gave her a camera for her birthday in 1863, when she was 48 years old, and she became entranced with the medium, then, of course, in its infancy and a labor-intensive process for photographer and sitter. Her photographs capture her sitters’ small shifts in movement as they tried to hold still for the long exposures. The resulting out-of-focus portraits have a wonderful feeling of intimacy and and life as a result. Tennyson was a neighbor and there were several portraits of him in the exhibit; it was hard for me to connect the author of the poem Ulysses with the portrait of that rather staid Victorian gentleman. In traditional Victorian fashion, she staged and photographed scenes from literature, using her family and friends. Many of the full face portraits are riveting; I saw the exhibit twice the day I was there and will be back to see it again before it closes on January 5, 2014.