PSS History

1858 Special General Meeting

Two Ways of Life  -  Oscar Gustav Rejlander

 Two Ways of Life  -  Oscar Gustav Rejlander

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Edinburgh's professional photographers  concerned at not being adequately represented  on the Hanging Committee which selected prints for the 2nd PSS Exhibition, and which decided that OG Rejlander's photograph "Two Ways of Life" was not acceptable for the Exhibition.



Special General Meeting called

On 12 January 1858, a Special General Meeting was called by ten PSS Members, most of whom were professional photographers based in Princes Street.  They were:

James Ross ............ Photographer

John Thomson ........ Photographer

-  James Ramage ...... Lithographer

DS Hay .................... Photographer

John Moffat ............. Photographer

James Henderson .. Photographer

William P Truefitt .... Photographer

George Simson ....   Photographer

William McCraw ...... Photographer

-  James Wood .......... Bookseller

1st Unsuccessful Motion by the Professionals

James Wood, seconded by James Ross moved that:

“In all time coming, the Council of the Photographic Society of Scotland should be totally composed of practical amateur and professional photographers”.

In response, Horatio Ross VP seconded by Mr Tunny, moved that: 

“This motion be not agreed to”. 

The two motions being put to the vote, Mr Horatio Ross’s motion was carried by a large majority. 

2nd Unsuccessful Motion by the Professionals

James Wood, seconded by James Ross, moved that: 

“Of three members of the Hanging Committee, two of these shall be professional members of the Society, or in case of future year, the Hanging Committee should be enlarged, that there be at least a majority of professionals.” 


Mr Harvey RSA, seconded by Mr Macfarlane moved that:  

“This motion be negatived”. 


After some discussion, Mr Harvey’s motion was declared carried without having been put to the vote.   

Professional Photographers - What next?

Thee professional photographers were clearly not satisfied.  The PSS, in its present form, was not meeting  their needs.  They made arrangements to meet informally, as was reported at the 2nd PSS AGM.

The Report at the 2nd  AGM said:

"The Council understand that it is in contemplation to form another Society an off-shoot of this, but limited in its membership to professional department of Photographic Art. 

The Council are sure that all members of the Society will be desirous that every success should attend the new Society, the proposed formation of which  they can only regard as another proof of how rapidly and extensively the Art has spread in this part of the country."   [Council Report to PSS 2nd AGM  -  9 March 00]

The off-shoot referred to was in fact established 3 years later, in February 1861, as Edinburgh Photographic Society. 

It is surprising, after making such encouraging comments about a possible new society, that the PSS appeared to almost completely ignore EPS when it was established. 

I have found almost no reference to EPS or its activities in the minutes of any of the PSS Monthly Meetings, even though the two societies met regularly in rooms close to each other in Central Edinburgh throughout the period 1861 to 1866.

The only explanation I have been given is from Edinburgh photographers of the 1990s: "Edinburgh is like that!"