PSS Exhibitions:    Medals    Dates   1st    2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th  10th 


PSS - Exhibitions

1856 - 1866

Ten Exhibitions

The Photographic Society of Scotland held ten exhibitions.  These were staged approximately annually from December 1856 until March 1866. 

Entrants, if they wished, were able to sell their photographs or copies of them.  PSS charged a commission of 10% on all sales.  It was left to the photographer to decide the price for their work.  There were some wide variations in the prices asked.

The 1st PSS Exhibition was held in 1856, the year that the Photographic Society of Scotland was established.

The 2nd Exhibition resulted in a dispute between the society's amateur and professional photographers over the rejection of OG Rejlander's photograph, "Two Ways of Life

The 3rd Exhibition and several subsequent exhibitions were held in Hay’s Fine Art Studio, 90 George Street.  Several attracted between 600 and 1000 entries.

The 4th Exhibition, and others later, caused controversy amongst the entrants, particularly on whether or not it should be admissible for photographs to be “touched” – e.g. by adding skies, and whether or not it should be permitted to enter photographs made from several negatives. 

OG Rejlander and HP Robinson were both enthusiastic photographers who used multiple negatives to make composite prints.  What might they have achieved today, with a computer and Photoshop?

The 5th Exhibition attracted a lot of comment about how unfavourable the weather had been for photography over the past year.

The PSS Council reported that the 6th Exhibition had suffered from the prevailing public depression caused by the lamented death of the Prince Consort , and resulted in a loss to the Society of about £40.

The7th Exhibition and 8th Exhibition were Competing Exhibitions.  Medals were awarded, but the photographs were displayed for only a few days.  No admission charge was levied.  These exhibitions attracted far fewer entries, but the quality of entry was very high.  

There was controversy at the 7th exhibition over the acceptance of entries made from more than one negative.

The 10th Exhibition was the final one staged by PSS.  It appears to have been less successful than those in previous years.  Not all the medals were awarded because the society considered the entries were not of a sufficiently high standard. 


Catalogues have survived from the 1st, 3rd and 9th exhibition.  The lists of entries for the other exhibitions are likely to be less reliable because they are based on correspondence accompanying the entries and on press comment about the exhibitions rather than on official exhibition catalogues. 


Dates and Venues


Dates open


1st Exhibition

Dec 1856 to ?

Hanover Street

2nd Exhibition

12 Dec 1857 to

Feb 1858

2 Saint David's Street

3rd Exhibition

18 Dec 1858 to at least 

12 Feb 1859

90 George Street

4th Exhibition

17 Dec 1859 to 

3 March 1860

90 George Street

5th Exhibition

2 Feb 1861 to 

6 April 1861

90 George Street

6th Exhibition

mid-Dec 1861 to at least 

10 Feb 1862

90 George Street

7th Exhibition

25 Mar 1863 to 

5 Apr 1863

117 George Street

8th Exhibition

10 Feb 1864 to 

5 March 1864

117 George Street

9th Exhibition

20 Dec 1864 to 

18 Feb 1865

90 George Street

10th Exhibition

13 Mar 1866 to 

end-April 1866

7 Saint Andrew Square



PSS Exhibitions:    Medals    Dates   1st    2nd   3rd   4th   5th   6th   7th   8th   9th  10th