R C Malcolm


EPS Member

R C Malcolm was an amateur photographer.

He won Awards for his sets of 4 lantern slides.


He gave two lectures to the Practical Photography section of EPS.

Practical Photography Lectures

28 Dec 1909

"Bromide Enlarging"

28 Feb 1912

"Gaslight Printing and Sepia Toning"


Twice, he proposed motions for EPS Wednesday Evening Debates.

EPS Debates

3 Feb 1909

"Is Time Development a Real Advance in Photography?"

1 Nov 1911

"That the expression of the beautiful is the only proper motif in Art. "

Accounts of these debates are given in Transactions of EPS:
  1909, pp.48-49 and 1911, pp.4-7



EPS President

R C Malcolm became President of Edinburgh Photographic Society for one year, beginning June 1910.   He gave his Presidential Address to the Society on 12 October. The subject he chose  was "The Development of the Photographer".   

Here are some brief extracts from the Address.  It follows the progress of an amateur photographer  "from the immature snap-shooting phase to the advanced pictorial stage". 

The heading, 'Seven Ages of the Photographer' was suggested  by Amateur Photographer.

'Seven Ages of the Photographer'


First, the Raw Beginner

"The photographer snaps assiduously at everything with his small cheap camera to obtain a permanent record of pleasant experiences.

If his exposures have been made with reasonable intelligence and he has his plates or films developed for him, the chances are that there will be a large proportion of quite successful or creditable results that will delight, or at least satisfy him.

The novelty may soon wear off and the beginner's photographic career come to an inglorious end."


Then the Learner

"He wants to know all about developing and printing.  He studies handbooks and reads the photographic magazines.

His object is still the same - records, souvenirs, portraits of his friends, "sunny memories", etc.  Individuality still enters little or not at all into his pictures.  Effects are not sought after.  The desire for such comes later.  But the value of this period of honest technical work is inestimable."


Then the Society Member

"At this period, our amateur, if he is wise, joins a live photographic society and pursues his hobby with added zest.  He has entered an environment to mould and frame his artistic faculties and ideas.

He will probably learn how to make enlargements and realise that he can get something more than a mere record or representation.  His first step in pictorialism has been taken.


Now the Pictorialist

"Progress will be largely the result of influences acting from without.  At the meetings of his society he will hear papers read and ideas with with which  he may not wholly or at all agree at the moment, but which will have their effect if it be only by setting him a-thinking

He will have the opportunity of seeing the work of his fellow members."


The Exhibitor

"At the photographic exhibitions, interest in his hobby will lead him to inspect with a critical eye the pictures of those who are recognised in the photographic world as the leading exponents of the art. 

Much will meet with his disapproval.  What did the judges see in that?  The result of these questionings will open up a path to  understanding.

He appreciates the fact that a successful picture has a meaning and that its excellence depends not on mere technique, though that is an essential element."


The Serious Individual Worker

"His interest in subjects has been widened.  Bits that would have formerly been passed  by unnoticed reveal themselves in a new character and aspect, very little bits sometimes, beneath the dignity of either himself or his camera at one time.

[He seeks] something that has moved him and by which he would fain move others.  It may be a simple play of light and shade, the murky aspect of a smoke-laden town, the ripple of waves on the sea shore or the infectious merriment of children at play  -  no matter, it is an effect, not a place;  a motif, not a mere hard fact."


The Reversion to Technique

RC Malcolm ended by commenting on the recent trend amongst some photographers to place too much weight on advances in printing processes.  He regarded this trend as retrograde and added:

"I do not think I overstate it when I say that it is not technique with the legitimate object of producing a pleasant pictorial result, but rather it is technique for its own sake, technique for the purpose of exhibiting its author's power of manipulating his medium.

Subject and technique must each play their own part in arriving at a truly pictorial result.  Subject alone, lacking expression in its treatment is mere record;  treatment alone, without regard to the nature of the subject, is mere manipulation: The proper combination of the two, beauty and conception feelingly expressed, result in pleasurable harmony.

Fuller extracts from this address appears in Amateur Photographer,
1 November 1910 [pp.429-430].

Thank you to Alan Wilson, Edinburgh,
for alerting me to this article in Amateur Photographer.