PSS History

March 1856 to April 1856


3 March 1856

On 3 March 1856, eleven men met at the Alexandra Hotel in Princes Street with a view to forming a Photographic Society.

They were Messrs Aitchison, Black, Halkett, Keith, Kinnear, MacKinlay, Moir, Ross, Walker, Watson and Professor Macdonald.

George Moir, who was about to be elected a Vice President of  PSS, had previously been a founder member of the Edinburgh Calotype Club. 

Horatio Ross took the Chair, having previously  corresponded with Secretaries of London and Manchester Photographic Societies concerning the laws and regulations which it might be expedient to adopt

5 days later …

Five days later, a meeting was held in Ross & Thomson’s Rooms, Princes Street, on 8 March 1856, to form the Photographic Society of Scotland.

Rules were proposed, and various alterations made to them.  They were then referred to Council for further consideration. 

The following were elected:

President:                      Sir David Brewster

Vice President:              Horatio Ross

Vice President:              George Moir

Honorary Treasurer:    HG Watson

Honorary Secretary:    CGH Kinnear

Council:                          James Black

                                         Thomas Keith

                                         John Cay

                                         William Macdonald

                                         Cosmo Innes

                                         James Ross

                                         TB Johnston

                                          William Walker

The first month

Within one month of the Photographic Society of Scotland being founded:

-      Prince Albert had agreed to become Patron of the Society.

-      A Photographic Exhibition in Manchester was brought to the attention of Members.  They were encouraged to give their support, and arrangements were made for forwarding photographs to the Exhibition.

-      A Collection of Prints for the Society was announced. Members were invited to contribute their work towards this collection, which would belong to the Society.. Members were advised that a  Portfolio of Mounted Prints and Albums for those unmounted had been   procured.

-     The first Lecture was given by Sir David Brewster delivered on 8 April 1856.  The subject - Photography - which he illustrated with diagrams and photographs.  It was agreed that copies of the address should be presented to the photographic journals and Edinburgh Papers.

-   Publication of the Society’s activities in the Journal of the Photographic Society became a regular practice, with part of the annual subscriptions being put towards supplying copies of the Journal to each Member.

Displays of Photographs and Equipment

Displays, from the outset were a regular feature of Monthly Meetings.  During April and May 1856:

-      James Wood, a bookseller from Princes Street displayed collections of photographs

-   Horatio Ross displayed a portable tent for the collodion process and specimens of prints by the Photogalrauographic(?) process.

-      William Walker exhibited  a new portable camera made by Mr Bell of Potterow.  It was described as:

"capable of taking pictures 8 ins. Square, weighing 8 ¾ lbs. without the lens and folding into a space 18 ins. Long by 10 broad and 2 ½ deep".