A History of Scottish Photographers by David Buchanan

A History of Scottish Photographers

Initiated by Sandy Sharp and Stewart Shaw in 2001, Scottish Photographers was conceived as a network of photographers who would come together to discuss and enjoy their work.  A group that would attract both serious amateur and professional photographers.  

The essence of Scottish Photographers has been the local portfolio sessions.  Currently these happen in Glasgow and in Inverness.  Previously they have also occurred in Edinburgh, St Andrews, Perth and Dingwall: but only the Inverness Cell has existed continuously since the early days. 

These local meetings proved very popular, and, after a few years, membership exceeded 200.  A modest annual subscription provided funds to publish the journal NOTES, which was produced up to three times a year by Sandy from summer 2003 until autumn 2012: a total of twenty-seven issues. (An archive of all twenty-seven is held by Street Level.)  In addition to NOTES, Sandy also produced a newsletter Contact Sheet which became Scottish Photographers Email (SPEM) in 2005, and which continues today, reverting to the name Contact Sheet.

Annually, a weekend meeting was held at Inversnaid, near Loch Lomond.  These ran from April 2002 until May 2010.  Two other weekend meetings were held at Quiraing Lodge in Staffin on Skye in September 2002, and at Kinloch Castle on Rum in September 2006.

Group exhibitions were held: the first by the St Andrews Group at the Lochgelly Centre in 2003.  In September 2008, the Northern Group held one at Inchmore Gallery near Beauly, and almost exactly a year later, Worlds, an exhibition by west of Scotland based members, was shown at the Lillie Gallery, Milngavie.  And, in December 2011,  Images Scottish Photographers was the launch exhibition for FOTOSPACE Gallery in Glenrothes.

Several workshops were organized.  These were run by John Blakemore (August 2004, May 2005, September 2007), Paul Hill (September 2010), and Tillman Crane (May 2005).

A website, www.scottish-photographers.com, was created and managed by George Logan, later by Jamie McAteer, and then by Carl Radford.  It existed until 2012.  

In Jan 2010, Sandy passed the job of organizer on to Carl Radford while still producing NOTES and SPEM, and Jamie McAteer took over the web site.  Roger Farnham continued to run Inversnaid.

Unfortunately, in May 2011 Carl had to give up being the organizer due to ill health.  Sandy reverted to dealing with the day to day running of Scottish Photographers together with editing SPEM and NOTES.  Now suffering from deteriorating health, Sandy produced his final edition of NOTES in autumn 2012.

The photographs that accompany this article and the one in Studies in Photography are a very small selection of the work that was published in NOTES and shown at portfolio sessions and exhibitions and is a sample of work produced by members of Scottish Photographers.

Chris Leslie, Snipers view, Sarajevo, from the Balkans NOTES 14 Spring 2008 ©the artist


Scottish Photographers Today

Today, Scottish Photographers exists as the very active Northern Cell run by Matt Sillars (North Photography Contact Notes), a rejuvenated Glasgow group run by Douglas Thompson, and Contact Sheet, an email newsletter edited by David Buchanan. 

Members of the Northern Cell are largely responsible for the biennial FLOW Photofest, and the Inverness Darkroom.

The Glasgow group will be running a weekend workshop at Hospitalfield in May 2020.

If you are interested in receiving Contact Sheet, joining one of the groups, or starting your own, please send an email to spem_david.buchanan@yahoo.co.uk.

Sandy posts to Instagram at www.instagram.com/sandesharp/ while Stewart posts at www.instagram.com/stewartdewarshaw/  and www.instagram.com/stewartshawsnaps/

NOTES continues as Notes: Letters to Photography

Stewart Shaw, Sandy at the opening of his “Another World” show at Street Level, with Thomas Joshua Cooper and Paul Hill, 2004 © the artist


cover image: Peter Goldsmith, The Moss  (Bankhead Moss), NOTES 3 June 2004 © the artist

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