National Media Museum blog

We explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image, and its impact on our lives.

Unseen photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron on digital display in 2014

We look after some of the most significant and important objects relating to the science, technology and art of photography, film and television anywhere in the world. Our challenge is to make as much of this rich content available as we can.

One way of doing that is to display the objects in our permanent galleries and exhibition spaces; but with over 3.5 million objects in our archive, and only a limited amount of space in our home here in Bradford, we’re only ever going to be able to share a tiny fraction of our collections in this way.

'Pomona (Alice Liddell)', 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Pomona (Alice Liddell)’, 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

So, we’ve started a project to digitise works from our key collections and make them available on our website, so you can browse some of our most important holdings, many for the first time.

To begin with, here’s a small selection of photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron, widely regarded as the first female art photographer, chosen from The Royal Photographic Society Collection. This is just to whet your appetite.

We have the world’s largest public collection of portrait photographs by Cameron, and we’ll be making much more of her work available early in the new year; over 700 items – that’s about ten times more than is currently available on our website.

'Charles Darwin, Naturalist', 1868, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Charles Darwin, Naturalist’, 1868, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

However, this requires a lot of preparation work. Making a selection from one of the best collections of photography in the world isn’t easy to do, and it takes time.

First, our curatorial team picked a range of material showcasing some of the most interesting and important photographs we have. Then, we worked with a specialist company, UK Archiving, to produce digitised images.

'Prospero and Miranda', 1868, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Prospero and Miranda’, 1868, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

A team of staff and volunteers is now in the process of listing and cataloguing these images so that we can put them online and share them with the world.

As well as the Camerons we’re aiming to make material by other influential photographic figures from within the National Photography Collection – such as William Henry Fox Talbot and the first President of The Royal Photographic Society, Roger Fenton – available through 2014 and beyond.

'Profile of the Mountain Nymph', 1870, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Profile of the Mountain Nymph’, 1870, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Some of this material has never been seen outside of our archive. Digitisation is a way of making our collections accessible and visible – putting these world-class collections on the web is a hugely important undertaking for the Museum.

Written by Paul Goodman, Head of Collections Projects

'Venus chiding Cupid and removing his wings: One of the Angel Series', 1874, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Venus chiding Cupid and removing his wings: One of the Angel Series’, 1874, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Mrs Herbert Fisher', 1868, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Mrs Herbert Fisher’, 1868, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Sir John Herschel', 1867, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Sir John Herschel’, 1867, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Mary Mother', c. 1868, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Mary Mother’, c. 1868, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Christabel (Miss May Prinsep)', 1866, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Christabel (Miss May Prinsep)’, 1866, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'The Nestling Angel', 1870, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘The Nestling Angel’, 1870, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'King Lear and His Daughters', 1877, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘King Lear and His Daughters’, 1877, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Return from School (Lionel and Henry Holland)', 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Return from School (Lionel and Henry Holland)’, 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'A Singhalese Girl', c. 1866, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘A Singhalese Girl’, c. 1866, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'The Hon. Frank Charteris', 1867, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘The Hon. Frank Charteris’, 1867, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'St Agnes', c. 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘St Agnes’, c. 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Miss Philpott or Mary (May) Hillier', 1873, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Miss Philpott or Mary (May) Hillier’, 1873, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Prayer', c. 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Prayer’, c. 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Thomas Carlyle', 1867, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Thomas Carlyle’, 1867, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Holy Family (Woman with two children)', 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Holy Family (Woman with two children)’, 1872, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'Lady Hood', Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘Lady Hood’, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

'A Study', c. 1870, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

‘A Study’, c. 1870, Julia Margaret Cameron, The Royal Photographic Society Collection © National Media Museum, Bradford / SSPL. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

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Situated right in the heart of Bradford, UNESCO City of Film, we explore the science, technology and art of the still and moving image and its impact on our lives. Our three cinemas include the UK's first IMAX theatre.

4 comments on “Unseen photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron on digital display in 2014

  1. atelierelealbe
    January 5, 2014

    Congrats for your nice project. There’s this thing that i don’t understand: how come under each photo there’s a <>? Are not all those photographs in public domain yet?

    • National Media Museum
      March 18, 2014

      Hi there

      The originals are in the public domain, but our digitised versions are not. We’re happy for people to use images for which we own copyright non-commercially (like these Cameron images) which is why we publish them with a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence. We want everybody to be able to enjoy, share and learn from our collections. However, we do restrict commercial use of our images. This is because the licensing of images is a vital source of income for us – now more than ever. Raising money through the sale of images for commercial projects enables us to maintain free entry, care for our collections and support our exhibitions programme.

      Best wishes,
      Emma

      • atelierelealbe
        March 18, 2014

        Hi Emma, thank you for your answer.

        Selling prints or high-res images to found your activity is laudable as any other self-sustaining activity.

        But claiming copyright over a perfect duplicate of a public domain picture is either a straight non-sense or a plain lie — ask any intellectual property lawyer and he/she will tell you the same thing.

      • National Media Museum
        March 18, 2014

        I’m afraid that’s not the case. In UK Copyright law, an image which has taken considerable effort to digitise or restore is classed as a new work, and this new image is protected by copyright. Our digitised images are very high quality photographic reproductions of prints and negatives, and therefore, we own copyright for these new works.

        To reiterate an important point from my last comment, we are very happy for people to use and share the digital images for which we own copyright non-commercially (which is why we publish them on the web under the CC BY-NC-SA license) as long as we are credited in the manner specified under the terms of the license. While we already do this on our blogs, our Creative Commons license will soon be published alongside the images on our website, as we support and encourage copyright clarity.

        For a little more background to this issue and UK copyright law, you may be interested in reading about the National Portrait Gallery’s case against Wikimedia in 2009.

        Emma

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