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Lecture to Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  2 October 1918

The Future of Photography

Patrick Turner Mackintosh

P T Mackintosh

President of EPS

Between 1914 and 1935, Patrick Turner Mackintosh delivered eight lectures to Wednesday Evening Meetings at EPS.  Three of these, in October 1918, 1919 and 1920 were President's Opening Addresses.

The subject he chose in 1918 was: The Future of Photography.


P T Mackintosh began by reflecting on the fact that :

-  when EPS was founded in 1861 the country was recovering from the effects of the Crimean War

-  today, at the end of the 1914-18 World War, the Society was still thriving

To those who would say that "the day of the Photographic Society is done" and that "it is no longer required in these days of mechanical perfection", he responded:

"Away with such pestilent fellows off the earth!  Have faith in your star;  have done with croakers and face the untried future with courage and confidence.

We are no band of done old men mumbling over the exploits of the vanished past, rattling the dry bones of forgotten controversies."

He believed that today's societies had a part to play in helping their members with a better understanding to the instruments with which modern science had provided them, and in broadening the artistic perception of their members.

The Future for EPS

After the War ...

Looking to the future, P T Mackintosh said:

"Whether, after the War, we shall be able  to branch out in new directions, whether we shall ever attain to these new premises for which so many of us have sighed, whether our membership shall be increased to such numbers that we shall be satisfied, these things are on the knees of the gods."

For the immediate future, he had some concerns.

"That irrepressible young woman DORA (was that some Government Dept?) does not care much for our wandering round with our cameras as of yore, and those of us who still expose plates are content , for the most part, to snapshot the family in the back yard.

Even this humble source of pleasure may soon be denied to us if supplies of materials do not improve, and I am afraid that before long, our good friends, the photographic dealers will have to follow the example of the grocers and set up in their windows the notice: 'No cameras, no plates, no films, no hypo.' "

The Future for Photography

P T Mackintosh said:

"On the mechanical side I do not look for any great improvements .  The laws of optics and mathematics are unchangeable, and it is difficult to see how lenses are to be improved, if indeed further improvement be desirable from the artistic and not from the press photographic point of view."

"Colour photography is certainly due for improvement, and those who like that kind of thing will, I trust, get something better than the rather crude productions of

He maintained that the future of photography would lie not in further mechanical developments but in the development of the art side of photography.

All quotes above are from P T Mackintosh's 1918 lecture to EPS.  See Transactions of EPS  Nov 1918, pp.3-7.


Patrick Turner Mackintosh
Lectures to EPS
The Future of Photography  -  Lecture 1918
EPS: Past, Present and Future  -  Lecture 1919