April 7, 2008

Evelyn Cameron: An Amazing Woman

I want to introduce you to Evelyn Cameron, an amazing woman. I met Evelyn last summer while brousing the "local interests" section of the book store in Billings. I connect with Evelyn for many reasons, just a few of which are our mutual love of eastern Montana, wildlife, the frontier way of life, and we both endeavor to share these interests through photography. I also admire her work because I love eastern Montana and it seems to often be overlooked. Tourism in Montana is concentrated in the central and western regions, and so the visual image more people conjure up of Montana includes snow capped mountains, elk and moose, and lush coniferous forests. My Montana is not like that. I imagine parts of eastern Montana arn't that different from how Evelyn knew it.

Evelyn was born in Great Brittain, the daughter of very wealthy parents. She married Ewen Cameron, against her famiy's wishes. Ewen's family had title, but the family fortune was mostly gone. Ewen and Evelyn honeymooned in America's wild west, which was the fashionable thing to do at the time, and fell in love with Montana. They bought property near Terry, MT which is east of Miles City, where they planned to make their fortune raising polo ponies to ship back to England.

Evelyn was proud of the fact that she had no servants, often sending letters and photographs home depicting herself doing ranch work such as gardening and milking the cows, riding horses, etc. The polo pony venture did not prove as lucrative as they had hoped, and to supplement the income, they started taking in boarders, one of which introduced Evelyn to photography. She began taking photographs of local events and people. Before long she was known regionally as a photographer, which also helped their income.

In the late 1970's, Donna Lucey discovered boxes and boxes of Evelyn's photo negatives, along with years of diaries, in the basement of Evelyn's best friend's home. It was a treasure trove of photographs depicting wildlife, landscapes, frontier and ranch life, and much more. After sorting through all of it, Lucey published them in a book, which I bought as soon as I found it.

Evelyn's photographs are amazing, especially considering when they were taken, the equipment she had to work with, and the fact that she was a woman. I can just picture her lugging around the heavy cameras, climbing rocks in her skirts. One of my favorite pictures is going to be posted in a seperate post below this one, because I still can't figure out how to put photos in the body of my post, unless they are at the top of it.

The official website is posted below. You can visit the photograph album to view over 400 of her pictures. The book is excellent, and I hope to purchase the PBS video documenting her life and work sometime in the future.

1 comment:

Meag said...

Hey sister! I loved your post today - very interesting. If you want a photo in the body of your blog you just have to get it on there (at the top) then click it and drag it down the the bottom. I have now made a habit of putting the picutres on first and then typing what I want to type above them until I get to where I want the picture and then moving the cursor to below the picture to continue. Just a blogging tip! :-)