This is an explanation for passage 2 of LSAT preptest 73, the September 2014 LSAT. This passage is about the Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. The author describes how Cameron’s photography was interesting precisely because it failed to achieve its goals.
This section has paragraph summaries and an analysis of the passage, links to the explanations for the questions are below.
- The charm of Julia Margaret Cameron’s pictures is that they were “flawed” due to the difficult conditions under which they were taken.
- The photos are very human, we can see the struggles of sitting. It’s impossible to suspend our disbelief while looking at the photographs.
- The Passing of Arthur shows how Cameron’s photographs could be both amateur and artistic.
The little grey text at the top of the passage is important. This is a passage about Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. The Victorian period was during the reign of Queen Victoria, roughly 1837-1901. So these photos are old.
You’ve surely seen photos of camera from back then. They were enormous, on big fixed stands. You had to sit very still, otherwise the photos blurred. That’s one reason everyone looked so serious in old photographs.
Julia Margaret Cameron took photos of scenes from theatre, art and religion. But she did so at a time when taking pictures was hard. A central element of the passage is that it was rather difficult to photograph the scenes she wanted.
Cameron’s Photos Were Flawed, And Therefore Human
So we get all kinds of comical side effects. Instead of grand historical figures, we see our uncle who can never stop blinking during family portraits (I’m making up an example). You may have been through long, hard family portraits. Imagine doing it in Shakespearean costume and trying to look heroic.
Julia Margaret Cameron’s aim was to make serious artistic photographs (lines 15-16). But she failed. Instead she made humorous, human photos that show us as we are.
And her photographs succeed because of this human element. See lines 15-20. However, Cameron’s photographs could be moving as well. The third paragraphs expands on this point. If the photographs were merely amateur, they would not be interesting (see lines 45-46). Cameron’s photograph of the Passing of Arthur is both amateur and majestic.
The Author Likes Cameron’s Photos Because They Are Flawed
Overall, the author really likes Cameron’s photographs. The fact that she partly failed and partly succeeded in her aim of making serious art is what makes the photographs special.
Lines 14-16 and lines 43-46 are the most significant in the passage. In lines 14-16, we learn that Cameron was trying to make serious works of art. She hadn’t wanted to making goofy photographs. In lines 43-46 we learn that the author thinks Cameron’s work succeeded because it was part amateur, but also partly artistic.
Often, a couple of key lines distill the author’s opinion. Those two sections come up in almost all questions. Clearly, the LSAC expected you to miss those points. If you have a clear view of the author’s believes it gives you a frame of reference through which to interpret the answers.
Need help with RC? → Try the RC Mastery Seminar
Solve hard passages quickly