The Scottish Photographic Federation was founded in 1903. The objectives of the SPF are the same today as they were back then
“The event of the year 1903, in Scottish Photography, has undoubtedly been the formation of the Scottish Photographic Federation. The enthusiastic manner in which the project has been taken up by the societies is proof that in the stereotyped phrase it has supplied “a felt want” - excerpt from The First Scottish Photographic Salon Catalogue.
“The credit having first mooted the idea belongs to the Brechin Photographic Association, who, on 17th September 1902, agreed to a motion for the formation of such a body amongst the local societies, and asked the Dundee & East of Scotland Photographic Association, as the senior association, to take the lead in the matter. The Dundee & East of Scotland Association convened a meeting, which was held in Dundee on 14th November 1902, at which Dundee & East of Scotland, Aberdeen, Blairgowrie & District, Brechin and Kirkcaldy associations were represented,” – excerpt from The First Scottish Photographic Salon Catalogue.
On Saturday 17th January a meeting took place in the rooms of Perthshire Society of Natural Science, Tay Street, Perth, at which 27 delegates were present from Aberdeen, Blairgowrie, Brechin, Coatbridge, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Paisley, Perth, Stirling & Shettleston. Mr Henry Coates President of the Perth Society took the chair, and Mr John B Maclachlan, Blairgowrie acted as interim secretary.
“After a full discussion of the matter, Mr James M MacLean, Glasgow Southern, proposed, and Mr Vaness C Baird, Dundee & East, seconded –‘That this meeting is of the opinion that a Federation of Scottish Photographic Societies should be instituted, and hereby resolves to do so’. This motion was agreed to, and a sub-committee appointed to prepare draft rules.” - excerpt from The First Scottish Photographic Salon Catalogue.
A further meeting was held on 7th February 1903 to draft some rules and suggested facilities.
On 21st March 1903, at 4.15pm in the rooms of Perthshire Society of Natural Science, Tay Street, Perth, a further meeting was held, when, after a full discussion, the rules and constitution of the new organisation were formally adopted. The First Office Bearers and Council were appointed and The Scottish Photographic Federation came into being. President, Mr Henry Coates, Perthshire Society of Natural Science; Vice-Presidents, Mr G D Macdougald, Dundee & East of Scotland & Mr David Horn, Glasgow Southern Photographic Association; Treasurer, Archibald Campbell, ‘Dundee Advertiser’ Photographic Club; Secretary, Mr John B Maclachlan, Blairgowrie & District Photographic Association.
Present were delegates from the following societies - Perthshire Society of Natural Science, Dundee & East of Scotland Photographic Association, Dundee Advertiser’ Photographic Club, Blairgowrie & District Photographic Association, Brechin Photographic Association, Aberdeen Photographic Association, Monklands, Glasgow Eastern Photographic Association, Glasgow Southern Photographic Association, Kirkcaldy Photographic Society, Paisley Philosophical Institute (Photo Section), Stirling & District Camera Club.
This meeting was the first to carry the heading ‘A meeting of the Scottish Photographic Federation…’
“It was intimated that 16 societies had definitely decided to federate” – excerpt from SPF’s first minute book.
The first Salon, Portfolio and Lantern Slide competitions were established by 1904, the first list of judges was drawn up and the publication of a yearbook, subsequently the blue book, was authorised.
In 2003, a Centenary Exhibition was put together from our own archives held by the SPF Custodian, which included; work from past and present prominent Scottish photographers, and from the archives of past or present Affiliated Clubs. Many individual Club Members and their families loaned us work, all of whom we are indebted to. Perth Museum & Art Gallery and Dundee City Library were also been very helpful, and their extensive archives allowed us to fill in some key early years, and represent work from some of the SPF’s founder members of council. A copy of the Centenary Catalogue is available to download below.
JM Whitehead was a prominent Scottish photographer from Alva around the 1900s. As an Associate member of the Scottish Photographic Federation when it was formed in 1903, he was regularly asked to exhibit in Federation events. An exhibitor in the early National Salon at Dundee, he went on to serve on the Salon committee at Paisley in 1907. He went on to Judge regularly at Salons and Portfolio competitions, from then, till his death in 1949.
The images below, are a small selection of his work donated to the SPF on his death. More details on those images can be found in the SPF Centenary Catalogue download (Items 6 to 9). A short biography is also available to read by clicking (here) where it considers him to have been "one of the world's greatest photographers"
All these prints by JM Whitehead were to form part of the SPF's Centenary Exhibtions which ran in McManus Galleries, Dundee; Paisley Museum & Art Gallery and Gracefield Galleries, Dumfries during 2003. The largest of these exhibitions was held in Dundee for the opening of the Centenary celebrations.
In 2003, the SPF was made up of 89 member Clubs covering from Orkney in the north to Dumfries in the south, and 90 Lecturers and Judges in our SPF Directory, our subsequent version of ‘the blue book’. We had been direct affiliated to the Federation International de l’art Photographique (FIAP) since 1970, and affiliated to the UK umbrella organisation of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (founded in 1930), as one of 14 Federations.
At the start of our Centenary Year the SPF Executive office bearers were - President, Libby Smith; Snr-Vice President, Campbell McNair; Jnr-Vice President, Jim Renny; Past President, Robert E Walker; Treasurer, Jack H Yule and Secretary, Jim Edmiston. Ordinary Executive Members were - Eric Scott, Kilmarnock; Neil Smith, Carluke; Bill McCance, PCPC; Drew Scott, Haddington; Rod Wheelans, Dumfries; Clive D Turner, Paisley PS; Tom Bell, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth; Joe Prior, Penilee and Jim Pollock, Carluke.
These are a selection of the finalists for the Best Print of the Millenium (2000-2003). The winner was selected at the opening day of the Dundee Centenary Exhibition by all of the SPF Judges present. 'Abandoned Slate Quarry' by Libby Smith, Carluke CC won the Print of the Millenium. She was awarded a piece of SPF Centenary glassware at the Centenary dinner on the Saturday evening.