The Photographic Society of Scotland was formed on 8 March 1856, the same month as the Crimean War ended.

Subscription was set at one guinea per year, or ten guineas for Life Membership;  though I have found no record of anybody having paid for life membership. 

After two preliminary meetings, it was announced that Prince Albert had agreed to become Patron of the Society. The society’s first regular monthly meeting was held on 8 May with Sir David Brewster in the chair.

    Sir David Brewster  -  a Calotype by Hill & Adamson ©   

Sir David Brewster

calotype by

Hill & Adamson


In the 1850s, photographers did not rely on Kodak, Canon and others to produce products.  It was expected that the photographers would make their own discoveries, which would be shared through the photographic societies, and photographic journals.  Sir David Brewster reflected this approach.

Today, we read about the permanence of prints made by inkjet printers.   In 1856,  Brewster said:

“There are two defects in photography, of such peculiar importance that every cultivator of the art ought to exert himself to remove them.  The first of these is want of colour in all pictures taken by the action of light; and the second is the fading and the occasional disappearance of the photographs themselves, either from the action of light or moisture, or of some other element in our atmosphere.”


From the outset, PSS had a wide range of activities:

  • Annual Exhibitions

  • Annual Distribution of a Presentation Print to Members

  • Regular Meetings for Members,

  • Popular Meetings for the general public

  • Albums of photographs contributed by Members