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HomeContents > People > Photographers > James Cameron

Dates:  1800 - 1875
Active:  Madagascar / South Africa

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for James Cameron
Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA)

Cameron chose not to follow his father as the taxman in Dunkeld, Scotland, instead becoming self-taught in science. Trained as an artisan missionary, he was sent to Madagascar in 1826. When the missionaries were expelled in 1835, Cameron moved to Cape Town and became a surveyor. He was also a pioneer in the supply of water to the town, something that stood him in good stead when he started making calotypes as an amateur in 1848. Cameron’s additional interest in electrotyping almost certainly led him to work with silvered metal plates, and by 1850 he had set himself up as a professional daguerreotypist. In 1853 Cameron returned to Madagascar, accompanying the Rev. William Ellis as a photographer, possibly taking calotypes but learning the new collodion process as well, and he also built a timber residence for Queen Rasohèrina - the first European-style house in the country. Cameron died in Madagascar and was given an elaborate public funeral. 
Roger Taylor & Larry J. Schaaf Impressed by Light: British Photographs from Paper Negatives, 1840-1860 (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2007) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 4 Nov 2012. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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