By Bill Dobbins
http://www.billdobbinsphotography.com

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898), known better by the pen name Lewis Carroll, is one of the most successful authors in history in terms of creating characters that have a prominent and permanent place in our culture.  Along with Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes,  Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ Tarzan, everybody knows about Alice as she appears in the books Alice In Wonderland and Alice Through The Looking Glass.

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Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice In Wonderland. Credit: Lewis Carroll

But unlike Sherlock or Tarzan, the character of Alice as based on a real person. a young girl that named Alice Liddell whom Dodson admired and befriended – and he made up the Alice stories to entertain and amuse her and her sisters.

But the public nowadays is less aware that Dodgson was also a photographer and interested in the craft to the point that he considered becoming a professional.  He was an English writer, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon as well as an avid and fairly well known maker of photographs.  According to Wikipedia, “Dodgson began to move in the pre-Raphaelite artistic social circle. He first met John Ruskin in 1857 and became friendly with him. He developed a close relationship with Dante Gabriel Rossetti and his family, and also knew William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and Arthur Hughes, among other artists. He knew fairy-tale author George MacDonald well – it was the enthusiastic reception of Alice by the young MacDonald children that persuaded him to submit the work for publication”

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

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Alice Liddell – photo by Lewis Carroll.
lord_alfred_tennyson_photo_by_carroll
Photo of poet Alfred Lord Tennyson by Lewis Carroll.

Dodson took up photography in the 1950s using the wet collodian process, which required skill, training, patience and attention to detail.  This process involves coating a plate with an emulsion, exposing it while still wet and then processing it almost immediately.  Photographers had to have a darkroom readily available, and those who shot on location required some kind of mobile facility such as as in a wagon.

An avid photographer in the early days of the medium, he photographed friends, family his friends among artists, writer and poet –  along other great Victorians: Millais, Rossetti, poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, Ruskin, Ellen Terry and more.  Dodgson was successful, well-connected, a talented writer along with being a photographer.

Actually, he stopped doing serious photography when the dry plate process replace wet colloidal.  His view seems to have been that photography at that point became so easy anybody could do it.  This sound remarkably like the way many in the modern age view digital photography.

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Photo by Lewis Carroll

“Imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality.” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

Dodgson seems to have had a lifelong fascination with very young girls. which has made many in the modern age suspicious of his motives.  Especially since he sometimes photographed them in the nude, which might well be illegal in the modern age.  But whatever his private feelings there  doesn’t seem to have been anything inappropriate in his actual behavior.  He met a young girl named Alice Liddell, the the fourth of the ten children of Henry Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford.  He started telling her stories and those are believed to be the basis for his Alice In Wonderland books.

He seems to have been drawn to the innocence of his young models and this inspired his output of fantasy literature with an emphasis on silliness and nonsense.  The Victorian Age was one that insisted on strict formality and social structure and this might have been one way to escape from these social limitations for a time.

“Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.” 
― Lewis CarrollJabberwocky and Other Poems

 

 

Dodgson’s fame and success continued to grow until he died of pneumonia at age 65.  But he left behind an important literary legacy and quality photographs that are interesting both as documents recording that period of history and of his portraits of what he saw as the innocence of young girls – even when those photos were nudes.

“I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, sir. Because I am not myself, you see?” 
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

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Bill Dobbins is a pro photographer located in  Los Angeles. He is a veteran photographer and videographer who has exhibited his fine art in two museums and a number of galleries and who has published eight books, including two fine art photo books:

The Women: Photographs of The Top Female Bodybuilders (Artisan)
Modern Amazons (Tashen)
WEBSITES
BILL DOBBINS PHOTOGRAPHY
www.billdobbinsphotography.com
BILL DOBBINS ART
www.billdobbinsart.com
FEMALE PHYSIQUE SITES
www.billdobbins.com
EMAIL: billdobbinsphoto@gmail.com
Wet-collodion
The wet colloidal process was technologically complex and time consuming.  | Public Domain
lewis and alice
Lewis Carrol and Alice Liddell, the inspiration for the Alice In Wonderland stories. | Public Domain
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Bill Dobbins
Bill Dobbins THE BODY PHOTOGAPHER became well known for his male and female physique photos - images of the aesthetic, athletic body. Using the same distinctive personal style, characterized by strong graphics and a classic look in both color and BW, Bill Dobbins has also developed a body of work featuring fashion, beauty and glamor photos In a world in which so many images create a level of "noise" that makes it hard for advertisers to be noticed, Bill's work cuts right through the confusion and grabs the eye. Bill has created two art photos books: The Women: Photographs of the Top Female Bodybuilders (Artisan) and Modern Amazons (Taschen) and his fine art work has appeared in two museums and several galleries. WEBSITES BILL DOBBINS PHOTOGRAPHY www.billdobbinsphotography.com BILL DOBBINS ART www.billdobbinsart.com THE FEMALE PHYSIQUE WEBZINE/GALLERY www.billdobbins.com EMAIL: billdobbinsphoto@gmail.com