Some time in the 1890's Montgomery bought her first camera. When
other people were getting bicycles, she decided to buy a camera,
and she got much joy from it. While we do not know what kind of
camera it was, we suspect it was a 4 X 5 model and that she lugged
the camera and tripod into fields and woodlands and other people's
parlors to get the images she wanted. The name "4 X 5" refers to
the measurement in inches of the glass plate, rather than film,
that was situated at the back of the camera. This type of camera
is still in use though the glass plate negative and processing for
it have changed to film. The photographs of Montgomery's scrapbook
pages used in this exhibition were shot with a 4 X 5 camera similar
to one Montgomery would have used.
Montgomery created a dark room in the Macneill homestead in Cavendish
and experimented with special effects in processing, such as inserting
a moon into a darkened daytime sky. Her 1902 article about photography,
written while she was a reporter on the Daily Echo in Halifax,
explains much about her fun and skill. She made inexpensive cyanotypes
(blue prints) of her own photographs and made the images in various
sizes. She used these cyanotypes to illustrate her scrapbooks and
to send as cards or calendars to her friends. She took photographs
for other people or for public functions at times, and sometimes
someone may have used her camera to take a picture of her in an
event she was photographing.
On the very first page of Montgomery's
second memorabilia scrapbook, she pasted an advertisement cut-out
of the "Kodak Girl," meant to suggest how effortless and fashionable
is photography when a camera can be carried like a fashion accessory.
When Nora Lefurgey, the Cavendish school teacher, came to board
at the Macneill's in the winter of 1903, part of their hilarious
times together was spent taking photographs. That summer, Maud and
Nora took photographs of each other at the shore.
took photographs for her own entertainment, but she may also have
realized that her chances of having a poem or story accepted could
be increased by including her own illustrations for them. Several
of her turn-of-the-century stories and poems, preserved in scrapbooks
not on display in this exhibition, have photographs of Cavendish
and even her own bedroom as illustrations.
When Montgomery recopied her journals in 1919 into a set of uniform-sized
ledgers, she illustrated those entries with her own photographs,
possibly raiding her old scrapbooks for images.
It is surprising that Montgomery
did not make photography a major part of any of her novels. In Anne
of Windy Poplars (1936) she included one episode about photography,
and this was borrowed from her own short story, printed some thirty
years before. Note the cover illustration for "The Little Fellow's
Photograph" and the camera equipment Montgomery herself mentions
in her Echo article on photography.