In 2003 the Scottish Photographic Federation celebrated their Centenary. To mark the event an exhibition was held in the McManus Galleries, Dundee.

In 2005, DPS celebrated it’s 125th anniversary – this makes us one of the oldest and longest established camera clubs in the UK. Several of our members are well known and highly respected in both Scottish and International photographic circles.


In 1950 the name of the Association was changed to Dundee Photographic Society: the name which continues to the present day.

A disastrous fire in 1971 damaged the Society’s premises at 3 Magdalen Place and the property was later sold. Many invaluable records were destroyed in the fire but fortunately the original minute books still survive and early printed material is held in the Lamb Collection in the Local History section of the Wellgate Library.

Despite this setback, the Society has become one of the largest in Scotland and several members are well known and respected in both Scottish and International photographic circles. The Society continues to meet each Monday from September to April in Meadowside St Paul’s Church Hall Dundee where members enjoy a varied programme of talks, demonstrations and competitions.

In 1980 Dundee Photographic Society celebrated it’s Centenery. To mark the Centenery, the society hosted the Scottish Photographic Salon and the exhibition of acceptances was held in the McManus Galleries, Dundee.


A Brief History of Dundee and the East of Scotland Photographic Association

The society continued to promote excellence in photography in the city and with Brechin and Perth helped in founding the Scottish Photographic Federation in 1903. Since then the annual salons of the Federation have become important events in the photographic history of Scotland and many have been organised and held in Dundee.

A further notable contribution has been made to the social history of Dundee by the decision in 1903 to carry out a comprehensive photographic survey of the city. Members undertook to photograph buildings factories churches interiors and exteriors, street scenes and even the tomb stones in the Howff, to illustrate the life of the period. This remarkable record of 3600 images, which took thirteen years to complete is housed in the Public Library. Another survey was carried out by members in 1992, as part of Dundee’s 800th Celebrations leaving an exceptional legacy for future generations, of life in 20th century Dundee.

Pre 1899

Interest in Photography in Dundee prior to the founding of Dundee and the East of Scotland Photographic Association

In 1847 the first photographic studio for portraiture was opened in Albert Court, Nethergate by Mr E Holmes. His prices were 10s, 15s and 20s for different sizes and 5s extra for colouring. By 1849 another studio had opened at 30 Union Street where business was conducted by Mr Brown, late of London and Antwerp. Using the Daguerrotype process he claimed that portraits could be given to the sitter ten minutes after being taken “in a thoroughly finished state”.

A few years later in 1854 there was sufficient interest in photography in Dundee to justify holding an exhibition. The committee of management for this included Lord Kinnaird, Sir John Ogilvie, Sir David Brewster and George Duncan MP for Dundee.

Exhibitors in this very successful international exhibition included such well known names as Fox Talbot, Adamson, Bisson, Vicomte Vigier, Count de Montizon and the Countess of Rosse.

Such was the interest in photography in the city that Dundee and the East of Scotland Photographic Association (DESPA) was formed in March 1880 and met in Lamb’s Hotel, Reform Street.

The first President was James C Cox.

In 1880 several prominent photographers in Dundee felt that the time had come when the town and district “should emulate the examples of other cities and possess greater facilities for meeting and exchanging ideas and promoting our Art generally”.

Invitations were sent to amateur and professional photographers and at a well-attended meeting in Lamb’s Hotel Dundee on the 29th March 1880 James C Cox of Beechwood Dundee was appointed President and in his inaugural address he wished the society every success. They arranged their first outdoor visit which was to Glamis Castle on the 6th May 1880. Later the Earl of Glamis accepted prints sent by the members taken during the visit, and agreed to be patron of the Association.

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