was brought to the attention of the general public when it was included in
the Great Exhibition in London in 1851.
the next decade, several photographic societies were founded including The
Photographic Society (now RPS) in 1853 and the Photographic Society of
Scotland (PSS) in 1856.
was founded under the patronage of Prince Albert. Sir David Brewster was
President. PSS held its first exhibition in December 1856 when the society
was only 9 months old. There were 1,050 prints and 8,000 visitors. The
exhibition included entries from:
- DO Hill (Edinburgh)
- Horatio Ross (Scotland)
- Antoine Claudet (London)
- Robert MacPherson (Rome).
press spoke favourably abut the exhibition:
"Another Exhibition has opened to delight our pleasure-loving Auld
Reekieites who are noted as dillettántí and Fine-Art rhapsodists.
Photography already appears scarcely less marvellous than the electric
Caledonian Mercury: 22 Dec 1856
was still a novelty in viewing photos when the first PSS Exhibition was
held. The Courant published a poem about this exhibition, describing
the photos as paintings made by the sun, 'Old Sol'. Here is the
final verse of the poem:
"Old Sol had scarcely spoken thus, when forth I went
To his Great Exhibition-Room, my shilling there to
And scarcely had I passed the door, and laid my money down
When I exclaimed 'A
shilling's worth! Why this is worth a crown.
He really is a painter! His own account is true.
I only wish we saw him here far oft'ner than we do'."
The Courant, 22
Please click on No. 1 below to read the
whole of this Poem, or No. 2 to read a reply, published nine days later in The
Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6 below all are poems about
EPS Exhibitions that have appeared, over the years, in EPS Bulletins. No.
3 was written in 1988 when EPS received a record number of entries for its
exhibition - 3994 !
Apollo against the Artists
Temple of the Sun
Magic of Four Thousand
from an Exhibition
A Selector’ s Lot
continued to hold Annual Exhibitions until 1866. Medal Winners at these
- F Bedford
- F Maxwell Lyte
- Robert MacPherson
- James Mudd
- O G Rejlander
- Henry Peach Robinson
- Thomas Rodger
a dispute over PSS’ refusal to accept the print ‘Two Ways of Life’
from OG Rejlander in the 1857 Exhibition, several PSS Members resigned from
the society and began to meet privately. They went on to found Edinburgh
Photographic Society in 1861.
Founding of EPS
was founded on 20 February 1861. (President, James D Marwick, Secretary, J
Traill Taylor, who become Editor of British Journal of Photography for most
of the time from 1864 until his death in 1895).
the outset, EPS included a mix of professional and amateur photographers, or
as George H Slight told EPS Members in 1867:
good working society, there should be a thorough admixture of different
classes of the community among the members, such as professionals, working
amateurs of all ranks, and others calling themselves amateurs who may have
only a general hankering after photographic pursuits.’
He said this last class was not to be
despised. He referred to them as ‘ornamental members, useful from their
position and influence in giving a certain status to a society, and in
assisting to augment the funds’.
Photographers, as well as amateurs, continued to play an active part in the
life of EPS throughout the 19th century, several of the most prominent ones
going on to become President of EPS. All the city’s professional
photographers closed their premises and declared the day an Official Holiday
on the occasion of the EPS Annual Picnic!
held its first exhibition in 1861. The society was only six weeks old. But
the society attracted over 700 entries to the exhibition including work from
Bedford, Bisson, Fenton, Herries, Mudd, Ramage, Roger, Horatio Ross, Silvy
exhibition was described as having choice specimens of photographic skill,
with stereoscopes, binocular picture &c. spread over the table in great
1873 or ‘74, William Henry Fox Talbot was awarded a Silver Medal for three
specimens of Photoglyphic Engravings.
Exhibition at Merchants' Hall - 1995
Copyright: For permission to
reproduce, please contact
some years, there were separate Open Exhibitions and Members’ Exhibitions;
in other years the two were combined with separate sections for Members.
have usually been shown in the premises used by the society for its meetings
– except for 1876,1890, and 1948-95 when public buildings were used.
See the list of venues below
5 St Andrew Square
RSA National Galleries
20 George Street
RSA National Galleries
38 Castle Street
117 George Street
16 Royal Terrace
YMCA Exhibition Hall
St Cuthbert’s Hall
Royal Overseas League
68 Great King Street
was a major exhibition. It occupied the whole Royal Scottish Academy at the
foot of the Mound. Six hundred guests were invited to the opening. The
of a circular had been posted to nearly every photographer in Britain,
America, India and the colonies, while the continent had also, so far as
practicable, been attended to."
British Journal of Photography reported
civilised country was more or less adequately represented in the
exhibition’. The exhibition included apparatus, chemicals, books and over
exhibits were on display:
- Professor Piazzi Smyth, Astronomer
Royal, exhibited the original camera with which he photographed inside the
- He also exhibited his cloud camera
fitted with a plano-concave converter to remove spherical distortion, and
some studies of sunlit cloud.
Ross & Pringle
exhibited a complete set of their daguerreotype apparatus
- Two volumes of portraits by
Hill & Adamson,
and several other books were displayed.
1890 Exhibition was another major exhibition, the second to be held in the
RSA National Gallery at the foot of the Mound. It was on display for 8
weeks. There were:
- Musical performances, provided by the
String Band of the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders
- 1,500 photos and a number of other
- Exhibition Lectures, some illustrated
by popular limelight views
- Exhibits including:
- Early Daguerreotypes
- Calotypes by Talbot and by Hill &
- Copies of ‘Sun Pictures of
Scotland’, ’Pencil of Nature’ and ‘Photographic Drawings’, all by
printing is still well represented, but the larger and more important works
are executed in carbon and platinum. Bromide also puts in a fair claim to
less usual processes are exhibited:
Medals were awarded in this exhibition:
best prints in the Exhibition
- 1 SILVER + 1 BRONZE
for the best two prints in each of the following classes:
- 1 SILVER + 1 BRONZE
for the best two prints in each of the following classes:
- Landscapes 6½ x 8½
inches and under
- Landscapes over 6½ x 8½
- Portraits below
wholeplate size in sets of 12 direct prints
- Portraits 6½ x 8½ inches
up to 10 x 12 inches in sets of 6 direct prints
- Portraits above 10 x 12
inches in sets of 6 direct prints
- Single Figure Studies,
not to exceed 15 x 12 inches, direct prints
- Combination Printing
- Genre Pictures
- Instantaneous Pictures
- Architecture and
Micro-Photography, Botany, Astronomy, Geology, Surgery, &c
- Landscapes, Half-plate
and under. Confined to Amateurs
- Photographs, any subject.
Confined to Amateur Members of EPS
- Pictures which have
previously not Obtained a Prize
- Lantern Slides, in sets
- Reproduction of Pictures
by any Process not Mechanical
- Vitreous Enamels
- Photo-Mechanical Prints
- Enlargements, which must
be accompanied by Original Negatives
continued with many medals awarded – especially to EPS Members, in the
1890s. Medals were awarded in the 1897 Exhibition for the following
Likar, Australia . Medal awarded 1896, similar to 1897 Medals
For Classes open to
1 GOLD, 2 SILVER, 3
(in total for the two classes below)
- Landscape and
- Figure Studies and
For Classes open only to
1 SILVER, 1 or 2 BRONZE
for each of the classes below
- Best picture,
half-plate size and under, other than figure or genre composition.
- Best figure or
- Best picture above
half-plate size, other than figure or genre composition.
- Best set of 4 or 5
pictures, being work done with camera held in hand.
- Best picture, being
the work of a lady member.
- Best enlargement.
- Best set of six
- Best set of three
pictures taken at the 1896 Saturday Rambles.
Classes and Awards varied from year to year, the subject involving some
protracted discussions at EPS Council Meetings. Eventually, it was decided
in 1902 to award only Bronze Medals. A new rectangular ‘Art Nouveau’ style
of medal was adopted, replacing the earlier large round medals.
The original casting for this medal was
found recently, allowing this style of Medal to be awarded again for the EPS
150th Exhibition in 2012.
survey of 500 prints submitted revealed the somewhat unexpected information
that 23 different negative sizes were used in producing them.
These ranged from 1 x ¾ ins to 24 x 30
cms. By far the greatest number of prints were made from 2 ¼ x 2 ¼ ins
negatives (33%): 35mms. coming next in popularity at 20%.
most popular printing process was Bromide (65.8%) with Bromesko and Plastika
both well represented whilst Bromoil and Bromoil Transfer together amounted
to only 2%.
exhibition was held at YMCA Exhibition Hall, 4 Queen Street, during the 3rd
Edinburgh Festival, from August until 10 September 1949. It attracted 3,000
visitors. EPS reported:
- The Festival Society gave the
Exhibition their Official Blessing.”
- Entries were received from 26
- 210 prints were on show, selected from
more than 1,000 entries.
- No awards were made, but prints
considered to be of outstanding merit were marked in the catalogue with an
‘A’. The catalogue included 202
prints, 50 of which were
marked with an ‘A’.
- Entries included Bromesko, Bromide,
Chlorobromide, Bromoil, Bromoil
Transfer and Plastika.
prints accepted in the exhibition comprised:
1953 to 2012
Recent Exhibition Catalogues
All catalogues above to 2007:: Edinburgh Photographic Society
EPS Exhibition has a reputation
amongst photographers for being a difficult exhibition in which to gain
acceptance. Most International Exhibitions accept about 25% of prints
submitted. Historically, the EPS Exhibition has accepted a much
the 2012 Exhibition, 2,566 prints were submitted from 39 countries.
From these, 202 were selected to be shown at the exhibition
year since 1953, the EPS Exhibition Catalogue has given a list of:
- The number of prints submitted and number accepted.
- A breakdown of the above by country.
click on the links below to see
of prints submitted and number shown each year, 1953 to 2012
Countries from which prints have been submitted each year,1953 to 2012.
is a chart that has been on display at the entrance to the exhibition in
recent years, showing the countries from which prints have been received.
Entries from Around the World