How we can use our mistakes to create great successes.


We meet up with Julia Margaret Cameron.  Julia is a true artiste.  Her home is nicely decorated, but there is an element of disorder about it.  We are in the Victorian Era where things are formal and women have yet to pave a way in the creative world.

We are talking with Julia because she has done something that few other women have.  Don’t worry.  This isn’t a women’s piece.  This is a story demonstrating what is possible.  This is a pave the way story.  At the age of 48 Julia applied to entered the male dominated Photographic Society of London.  She did not receive a warm welcome.

Photography is new and it hasn’t been decided if it is a science or an art.  Most photographers today see it as a science and due to this their pictures are mechanical in nature.  Julia’s pictures are not.  In fact her peers highly criticize her pictures and she is lambasted in the press.

“Her biggest criticism became the thing that would turn out to be the hallmark of her style and her enduring frame–her mistakes”

Julia is controversial and critics believe her work is slovenly.  She herself admits that her goal is to capture what she believes is beautiful and then stop here.  Critics call her idea of beauty as “smudged, torn, dirty, undefined, and blurred”.  Julia tells me that there were photographs where she knew that other photographers would have put on another lens, but she refrained from doing so to capture a beautiful moment just the way it was.

Julia Margaret Cameron’s legacy and what we can learn.

Julia helped propel photography into an art form.  She was known for her mistakes and she embraced those as being her successes.  Let that sink in.  She was known for her mistakes, and she embraced those as being her successes.  She accomplished her creative goal of combining what was real and ideal with truth.  She left a legacy for others to follow and one that we can learn from today.

When creating anything we are often frozen by fear.  What if I make a mistake?  The good news is you will make a mistake.  You are human.  The key is not preventing yourself from making mistakes, but how you respond to them.  Julia responded by embracing what others called her mistakes as her greatest successes.  They became the hallmark of her art.

“Her mistakes were her successes–may be the true mark of a genius”

If we make mistakes then let’s use those to learn.  Perhaps they will reveal something about what we should be doing.  Mistakes can serve as a form of self-discovery. Okay, that didn’t work.  I often think that’s what my style of parenting was like–mistakes that we capitalized on.

That list of questions that you have of what might go wrong, and I know you have them, are just excuses.  What if I, what if that, what if they don’t, what if it doesn’t, what if I do it wrong?  So what.  Let’s just act.  Let’s practice our art, our science, and in our life.  Let’s learn from our mistakes and let’s move forward learning from them and moving on to trying again.  Perhaps being like Julia and embracing them as our greatest successes.

Marcy Pedersen

Original article about Julia @ Mistakes that made her famous


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