Aged fourteen Cameron was apprenticed to an Edinburgh architect, and in 1849 he enrolled in the Ornamental Class of the Trustees’ Academy. There, he found his true vocation as an easel painter by transferring to the Antique Class conducted by Robert Scott Lauder. These studies were supplemented by his attendance at the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) Life class. After making his exhibition debut at the RSA in 1854, he turned to painting definitively in 1856, abandoning any further prospect of a career in architecture. He was an annual exhibitor with the RSA down to 1918, his commitment was rewarded by his election as an Associate in 1859 –following the highly favourable critical reception of Going to the Hay (NG 652). Later in his career he admired the work of the Hague School, and a corresponding evolution in his own style and his treatment of his preferred rural subjects may well have been stimulated by his direct encounter with Jozef Israëls. In 1870 Cameron and George Paul Chalmers escorted Israëls around Edinburgh, all three then proceeding to Aberdeen at the invitation of John Forbes White. An accomplished watercolour painter, Cameron became a founder-member of the (Royal) Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour in 1878.