British photographic history

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St Andrews Photography Festival to showcase the towns photographic heritage

While St Andrews is world-renowned as the home of golf, BPH readers will know the important role the town has played nationally and internationally in photography from the 1840s to today. A new photography festival, which launches in August, will celebrate the role and importance of St Andrews in the world of photography and engage with those who live, work in and visit the town.

BID Chairman, Alistair Lang, explains: “We are one of the most photographed and filmed towns in the world, yet few realise much of the technology we enjoy the benefits of today began with the work of a collection of photographic pioneers who lived and worked in St Andrews in the 1800s.”

Dr John Adamson is perhaps the most celebrated – a blue plaque adorns the wall of his former home in the town on South St, now The Adamson Restaurant. But many other names are to be celebrated for the role they played, including Sir Hugh Lyon Playfair, David Octavius Hill, Robert Adamson, Thomas Rodger and Sir David Brewster.

The first six-week-long festival – from August 1 to 11 September - will see events and exhibitions focus on the earliest days of photography in St Andrews as well as Scottish documentary photography over the last 175 years and contemporary photography.

The festival will put some of the photographic highlights of the University of St Andrews Library Special Collections on show as well as creating a showcase for contemporary Scottish photography. 

Up to 15 local businesses will be involved, including cafés and restaurants, hosting small-scale exhibitions. There will also be tours, seminars, workshops and talks including guest photographers as well as workshops to demonstrate a variety of photographic processes including calotype and collodion - two of the earliest and those used by the town’s renowned pioneers of the art.

The exhibitions will include:

  • 175 Years of Scottish Photography
  • A 40th Anniversary retrospective of Edinburgh’s Stills Gallery
  • Pioneers Thomas Rodger - who set up the first purpose-built photographic studio in St Andrews in 1849 - and Robert Moyes Adam
  • Renowned Press photographers George M. Cowie and Harry Papadopoulos
  • Documentary photographers Franki Raffles, David Peat, Dr Hamish Brown MBE, Sean Dooley and Document Scotland (Colin McPherson, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, Sophie Gerrard and Stephen McLaren)
  • Photographic artists Calum Colvin RSA OBE, Kit Martin and Keny Drew

There will also be a number of events, including a ‘Become a Street Photographer’ youth workshop, a Victorian Tintype Studio, a photographic tour of St Andrews and talks by photographers including Hamish Brown on his travels in Morocco. 

Alistair adds: “Today’s technology ensures we can all be photographers and we’re inviting everyone to be a part of this unique festival which we hope will become a regular fixture in the town’s calendar.”

“This event is about participation – engaging with people who live and work in the town as well as those visiting during the festival. We’ll also be using the event to reach out to those who like, follow and otherwise engage with us on digital and social media channels worldwide…using photographs.”

“The festival includes indoor and outdoor venues – making use of the town’s stunning setting and landscape to showcase work and engage with photographers of all ages. It will also provide an opportunity for businesses across the town to get involved and interact with customers in new ways.”

The St Andrews Photography Festival will run from 1 August to 11 September 2016.

For details as they’re revealed, go to the Festival Facebook page at

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