The Scottish Photographic Federation was founded in 1903. The objectives of the SPF are the same today as they were back then

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JM Whitehead

JM Whitehead was a prominent Scottish photographer from Alva around the 1900s. As an Associate member of the Scottish Photographic Federation when it was formed in 1903, he was regularly asked to exhibit in Federation events. An exhibitor in the early National Salon at Dundee, he went on to serve on the Salon committee at Paisley in 1907. He went on to Judge regularly at Salons and Portfolio competitions, from then, till his death in 1949.

The images below, are a small selection of his work donated to the SPF on his death. More details on those images can be found in the SPF Centenary Catalogue download (Items 6 to 9). A short biography is also available to read by clicking (here) where it considers him to have been "one of the world's greatest photographers"

All these prints by JM Whitehead were to form part of the SPF's Centenary Exhibtions which ran in McManus Galleries, Dundee; Paisley Museum & Art Gallery and Gracefield Galleries, Dumfries during 2003. The largest of these exhibitions was held in Dundee for the opening of the Centenary celebrations.


Bill, as he was always called, joined Paisley Colour Photographic Club in 1955, the year in which it was founded. Apart from a short period of 5-6 years during the 1980s, he remained a member until the end – around 60 years of membership which made him the longest serving member.

Originally a member of Kilmacolm Camera Club he also joined Anchor Photographic Club where he remained a loyal member until its demise following the closure the Anchor thread mills where he had been an employee of J & P Coats for most, if not all, of his working life. Photography was always a huge part of Bill’s life in one capacity or another and amazingly his interest never seemed to wane as the years passed. He was one of his Club's most regular attenders, seldom missing a Thursday evening meeting right up to the Covid-19 shutdown. When he stopped driving he just booked a weekly taxi to drop him off at the Club and collect him at the end. Likewise he seldom missed a competition entry although very recently he admitted finding computer work was becoming increasingly difficult due to eyesight problems, but his determination kept him going and he continued to meet with a good measure of success.

During his membership of Paisley Colour, Bill served as President between 1977 and 1979 and continued on Council for another 3 years including one as Competition Secretary. However, his greatest service to the Club was through his involvement with the Paisley International Colour Slide Exhibition. He was one of the small group of individuals responsible for setting this up in 1979 and he continued to serve on the Exhibition Executive for 11 years, 1970-1980. He donated the McCance Trophy which was a much coveted award given annually to the best set of images by a Scottish resident. For many years he was on the SPF and PAGB list of approved lecturers and judges and many photographic clubs, as well as other organisations, greatly benefitted from his knowledge and skills through his lecturing and judging visits.

He frequently judged international exhibitions in the UK, including several times at the Scottish Salon, Northern Counties and the Paisley International. Bill had very varied interests in photography over the years including pictorial landscape, creative montage, portraiture, nature, weddings, video and audio-visual slide presentations where slide changes were memorised and manually controlled - no fancy expensive electronics. He was a meticulous worker in everything he did and his images proved highly successful, not just at club level, but also in international exhibitions where he gained many acceptances and also top awards. His versatile approach to photography was highly remarkable and he readily adapted to changing circumstances and interests at different stages in his life.

The transition from film to digital was taken in his stride and he was one of the first in the Club to embrace the new medium. He was always generous in sharing information and willing to help others to progress their photographic skills. For many years he gave excellent practical teach-ins and demonstrations to the Club and I particularly remember his technique of photographing colour slides through textured glass to produce abstract/creative images – so fiddly and challenging then, but now it can do this at the click of a button.

The Scottish Photographic Federation benefitted from the years he served on their Executive Committee including being President in 1978-80. For nearly 35 years he acted as the SPF’s FIAP Liaison Officer. It was while in this role where he was instrumental in the SPF joining FIAP, long before the PAGB, and for the Scottish Salon holding FIAP patronage and becoming a truly International Salon. This and his involvement with the Paisley International, led to him being awarded a HonEFIAP. His service to the SPF and its member clubs was recognised when he was admitted to the Roll of Honour (HonSPF) of that organisation, and the APAGB awarded by the PAGB.

Bill was awarded an Associateship of the Photographic Society of America in 1976 followed by a Fellowship in 2004 in recognition of his dedicated service to that organisation and his promotion of PSA in this country and of photography in general. In 2019 PSA acknowledged his 50 years of membership with the presentation of an inscribed clock and certificate. With all the distinctions after his name he could justifiably claim to be Paisley Colour’s most decorated photographer. His passing brings to an end our only remaining link with the Club’s origins in 1955. He will be remembered with affection and gratitude and his presence at Club meetings will be most sorely missed.

From Tribute by Duncan McEwan President, Paisley Colour Photographic Club June 2020

The Early Years - 1903

“The event of the year 1903, in Scottish Photography, has undoubtedly been the formation of the Scottish Photographic Federation. The enthusiastic manner in which the project has been taken up by the societies is proof that in the stereotyped phrase it has supplied “a felt want” - excerpt from The First Scottish Photographic Salon Catalogue.

“The credit having first mooted the idea belongs to the Brechin Photographic Association, who, on 17th September 1902, agreed to a motion for the formation of such a body amongst the local societies, and asked the Dundee & East of Scotland Photographic Association, as the senior association, to take the lead in the matter. The Dundee & East of Scotland Association convened a meeting, which was held in Dundee on 14th November 1902, at which Dundee & East of Scotland, Aberdeen, Blairgowrie & District, Brechin and Kirkcaldy associations were represented,” – excerpt from The First Scottish Photographic Salon Catalogue.

On Saturday 17th January a meeting took place in the rooms of Perthshire Society of Natural Science, Tay Street, Perth, at which 27 delegates were present from Aberdeen, Blairgowrie, Brechin, Coatbridge, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Kirkcaldy, Paisley, Perth, Stirling & Shettleston. Mr Henry Coates President of the Perth Society took the chair, and Mr John B Maclachlan, Blairgowrie acted as interim secretary.

“After a full discussion of the matter, Mr James M MacLean, Glasgow Southern, proposed, and Mr Vaness C Baird, Dundee & East, seconded –‘That this meeting is of the opinion that a Federation of Scottish Photographic Societies should be instituted, and hereby resolves to do so’. This motion was agreed to, and a sub-committee appointed to prepare draft rules.” - excerpt from The First Scottish Photographic Salon Catalogue.

A further meeting was held on 7th February 1903 to draft some rules and suggested facilities.

On 21st March 1903, at 4.15pm in the rooms of Perthshire Society of Natural Science, Tay Street, Perth, a further meeting was held, when, after a full discussion, the rules and constitution of the new organisation were formally adopted. The First Office Bearers and Council were appointed and The Scottish Photographic Federation came into being. President, Mr Henry Coates, Perthshire Society of Natural Science; Vice-Presidents, Mr G D Macdougald, Dundee & East of Scotland & Mr David Horn, Glasgow Southern Photographic Association; Treasurer, Archibald Campbell, ‘Dundee Advertiser’ Photographic Club; Secretary, Mr John B Maclachlan, Blairgowrie & District Photographic Association.

Present were delegates from the following societies - Perthshire Society of Natural Science, Dundee & East of Scotland Photographic Association, Dundee Advertiser’ Photographic Club, Blairgowrie & District Photographic Association, Brechin Photographic Association, Aberdeen Photographic Association, Monklands, Glasgow Eastern Photographic Association, Glasgow Southern Photographic Association, Kirkcaldy Photographic Society, Paisley Philosophical Institute (Photo Section), Stirling & District Camera Club.

This meeting was the first to carry the heading ‘A meeting of the Scottish Photographic Federation…’

“It was intimated that 16 societies had definitely decided to federate” – excerpt from SPF’s first minute book.

The first Salon, Portfolio and Lantern Slide competitions were established by 1904, the first list of judges was drawn up and the publication of a yearbook, subsequently the blue book, was authorised.

The First Hundred... Centenary 2003

In 2003, a Centenary Exhibition was put together from our own archives held by the SPF Custodian, which included; work from past and present prominent Scottish photographers, and from the archives of past or present Affiliated Clubs. Many individual Club Members and their families loaned us work, all of whom we are indebted to. Perth Museum & Art Gallery and Dundee City Library were also been very helpful, and their extensive archives allowed us to fill in some key early years, and represent work from some of the SPF’s founder members of council. A copy of the Centenary Catalogue is available to download below.

You can also see all of the Storyboards created for the Centenary Exhibitions by visiting the following gallery (click here)

In 2003, the SPF was made up of 89 member Clubs covering from Orkney in the north to Dumfries in the south, and 90 Lecturers and Judges in our SPF Directory, our subsequent version of ‘the blue book’. We had been direct affiliated to the Federation International de l’art Photographique (FIAP) since 1970, and affiliated to the UK umbrella organisation of the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (founded in 1930), as one of 14 Federations.

At the start of our Centenary Year the SPF Executive office bearers were - President, Libby Smith; Snr-Vice President, Campbell McNair; Jnr-Vice President, Jim Renny; Past President, Robert E Walker; Treasurer, Jack H Yule and Secretary, Jim Edmiston. Ordinary Executive Members were - Eric Scott, Kilmarnock; Neil Smith, Carluke; Bill McCance, PCPC; Drew Scott, Haddington; Rod Wheelans, Dumfries; Clive D Turner, Paisley PS; Tom Bell, Cumbernauld & Kilsyth; Joe Prior, Penilee and Jim Pollock, Carluke.

Falkirk Camera Club 60th Anniversary 1958-2018

Genesis To Jubilee - The Story of Falkirk Camera Club opened on 31st March 2018 in The Gallery at Falkirk Town Hall, West Bridge St., Falkirk. This exhibition 'Genesis To Jubilee' is the Story Of Falkirk Camera Club telling the story of their 60 year journey. The exhibition has been extended to 31st May 2018 and is supported by Falkirk Community Trust. Admission Free. More information on their website (click here) 

In 1889 photographers in Falkirk banded together to form the Falkirk Amateur Photographic Association. That group survived two World Wars and various incarnations before, on 17th April 1958, becoming the Falkirk Camera Club which we know today.

The exhibition includes a c1890’s photograph of those first Falkirk photographers together with a photograph of some current Falkirk Camera Club members taken recently in the same spot at Callendar House - Falkirk. Those recent photographs, plus short biographies of some of today’s members will join those 19th century images in the Falkirk History Archives at Callendar House for the benefit of future generations. Callendar House is now a Heritage Centre and Local History & Archeology Archive operated by Falkirk Community Trust.

For the first time in almost 80 years, we exhibit the first photograph which a Club photographer, John P. Munn, exhibited internationally by touring it in the U.S.A. immediately before that country entered WWII. Also included is the first Falkirk C.C. Print Of The Year, by Dr J. McMurray, from the re-named Falkirk Camera Club in 1958.

The exhibition continues with the 1962 Monochrome Print Of The Year by Peter Easton, still active in the Club today. We exhibit photographs which were exhibited by Falkirk C.C. members in International Exhibitions from the 1980’s onwards and crucially, the work of photographers who have only joined the group within the past few months. 

Falkirk Amateur Photographic Association was reformed after WW1, and became Falkirk and District Photographic Association in 1922. The newly named organisation joined the Scottish Photographic Federation in 1923, and remains a member today as Falkirk Camera Club. To visit Falkirk Camera Club's website (click here) or to read more about their history (click here)

"We had a terrific day at our Exhibition Event on Saturday 7th April and included among our guests Roy Chalmers, a descendant of Thomas Chalmers who is third from the left in the back row in the Office Bearers photograph (above - second left). We now have three Falkirk Camera Club videos on You Tube including one on Thomas (click here)

The daughter of Malcolm Logie, whose B&W Print was accepted to the 1955 Scottish International Salon, and is in the Exhibition was also present. The daughter of Dr J.J. McMurray, mentioned in the article, had just arrived back in the UK from some time in Australia and was not able to attend. However, she had not met Malcolm’s daughter for 60 years and each requested to make contact so we are arranging that now." Allistair Kean, Falkirk CC

Dumfries Camera Club 70 years old 1947-2017

Dumfries Camera Club was founded in 1947. The Club has a long association with the SPF, and has been one of the SPF's most active and successful Clubs during it's history. Dumfries Camera Club has been a continuous member of the SPF since joining in 1947. There have been two SPF Presidents from Dumfries Camera Club during that time Eustace T Senior 1965 - 67 and Rod Wheelans 1989 - 91. Eustace T Senior was also SPF General Secretary 1952-56. Both Eustace and Rod went on to become PAGB Presidents too in 1967-69 and 2005-07 respectively. A number of other members from Dumfries Camera Club have served on the SPF Executive over the years, in more recent times Rod Wheelans, Simon Allen, John McVie, Ian Newton, Edmund Fellowes, Gordon Rae. John McVie and Gordon Rae are current vice-presidents of the SPF. 

The Scottish Salon was hosted and organised by Clubs in it's earlier years; Dumfries Camera Club have hosted it five times - 1952, 1958, 1970, 1987, 1993. They also co-hosted the first Scottish Salon run and organised by a separate SPF Executive Salon Committee in 1998, the 79th Scottish Salon. 

As a part of their Platinum Anniversary celebrations, Club members photographed many hundreds of the Region’s residents and heard a little about their lives, families, work and interests. Dumfries Camera Club's exhibition PEOPLE OF DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY, was the culmination of that project. Over 1000 photographs, occupying 5 rooms at Gracefield Galleries was on display from 26th August to 30th September, the exhibition included work from the Club’s archive going back to 1920. There was also displays by Dublin Camera Club, and pictures by Don McCullin - 49 of his disturbing pictures, courtesy of Artists Rooms and The Tate.

Print of the Millenium

These are a selection of the finalists for the Best Print of the Millenium (2000-2003). The winner was selected at the opening day of the Dundee Centenary Exhibition by all of the SPF Judges present. 'Abandoned Slate Quarry' by Libby Smith, Carluke CC won the Print of the Millenium. She was awarded a piece of SPF Centenary glassware at the Centenary dinner on the Saturday evening.