James Patrick

and Edinburgh Photographic Society


During the 1890s, photography had become simpler and more popular, and the membership of Edinburgh Photographic Society increased steadily.

James Patrick was a prominent member of the society, winning many awards, leading Saturday rambles and judging exhibitions. In 1899, he was described as 'Lantern Slide Medallist, Edinburgh & London'.

 He gave lectures to the society between 1883 and 1902, most being on the subject of Photography and Fine Art or Travels through Fife.

In 1894, he gave a lecture titled Rambles through Fife with a Camera to one of the EPS Popular Evenings.  These evenings were held in Queen Street Hall about four or five times a year.  The cinema was not to arrive for about another decade, so the EPS lectures tended to be both educational and popular with attendances sometimes reaching a thousand.

The lecture, Rambles through Fife with a Camera, was illustrated with about 120 slides made from James Patrick's photographs and shown through the Magic Lantern.  The words were read by James Patrick but written by his sister, Jessie Patrick Findlay who had written several books and wrote a weekly column for The Scotsman for many years.  She also entertained the audience on the evening  by singing several songs to illustrate the fishing industry of Fife.

EPS President

In 1897, James Patrick was elected President of EPS.  The society then had a membership of 401 and was then possibly the largest photographic society in Britain.

In his Presidential Address, he spoke of  those who had taken up photography who would previously never have dreamt of it:

“men of artistic instinct and a love for the beautiful and grand in nature who now find in photography a means of expressing their thoughts and feelings.”

James Patrick was keen to promote photography as a fine art, claiming that the photographer who was able to use light and shade to express sentiment in monochrome was an artist in the true sense of the word.   His advice in 1897 was to use a tripod, to experiment with taking photographs into the sun, and to pay attention to moods and atmosphere in the landscape, and not to put the camera away in winter - all still good advice today!

We are fortunate that many of James Patrick's  images have survived for us to enjoy, both as photographs and postcards.

 EPS Wednesday Evening Lectures

[for EPS Members]

James Patrick joined Edinburgh Photographic Society in 1880 or earlier and was elected President 1897-98.  He gave the following lectures to EPS, and also showed slides in the Lantern Section of EPS.

1892 "The Imitative and Imaginative Side of Photographic Art"

1893:  "Matters pertaining to the Art Side of Photography"

1895:  "A Village by the Sea"

-  1896:  "Stray Thoughts on Lantern Slide Making"

-  1902:  "Difficulties in Picture-Making by Photography"

 EPS Popular Lectures

[for EPS Members and the Public]

James Patrick delivered lectures to EPS Popular Meetings:

- 1883  "Round About the Farm"

- 1894  "Rambles through Fife with a Camera"

James Patrick provided the photographs (at least for the second of the Meetings above). 

His sister, Jessie Patrick Findlay, provided the text and for both Meetings also some of the musical entertainment on the evening. 

Exhibition Lectures

James Patrick delivered several EPS Exhibition Lectures:

- 1896  "The Early Home and Haunts of Robert Louis Stevenson"

- 1898  "A Fringe of the Fife Coast"

- 1900  "Rambles with a Camera"

Photographs in Exhibitions

James Patrick won the Gold Medal in the Landscape, Seascape and Architecture Class of the EPS Exhibition in February 1900.

During the same exhibition, he gave his lecture "Rambles with a Camera" to a large audience.  The lecture was illustrated with slides of his rambles along the Fife coast from Inverkeithing to Crail.