Boston Camera Club

The Boston Camera Club is the leading amateur photographic organization in Boston, Massachusetts and vicinity. Founded in 1881, it offers activities of interest to amateur photographers, particularly digital photography. It meets weekly from September to June. Membership and meetings are open to the public.

Exhibition room of the Boston Camera Club, 50 Bromfield St., c. 1893.


Photography was introduced in 1839. For some decades practice involved laborious daguerreotype followed by wet-plate and other processes. Amateur photography in the United States received its first major impetus in 1880, when the future Eastman Kodak Co. and others introduced dry platesglass plates with chemical emulsion already applied. In 1888 Kodak introduced flexible media—first paper and soon film—and third-party processing. These innovations brought photography to the masses. Still, professionals and advanced amateurs typically continued to use glass plates until the early 20th century, when film was universally accepted. Today most photography is digital.

Boston Society of Amateur Photographers, 1881Edit

The club known today as the Boston Camera Club was founded October 7, 1881 in Boston as the Boston Society of Amateur Photographers. It is the oldest continuously extant camera club founded by amateurs, and the second-oldest extant camera club, in the U.S.[1] Present at the October 7 meeting were F. H. Blair, James M. Codman, W. C. Greenough, A. P. Howard, Lucius L. Hubbard, Frederick Ober, and John H. Thurston, with Thurston having the most active role. At first, temporary officers were elected. On November 9, 1881 in a Boston paper, the group solicited support from other interested persons. Accordingly another nascent group, comprising James F. Babcock, William T. Brigham, Wilfred A. French, William A. Hovey, and others, joined them. The new, combined group met on November 18, 1881 and permanent officers were elected—Brigham president, Babcock vice president, and French secretary and treasurer. Babcock was a professor of chemistry, French and Thurston Boston photographic suppliers, and Hovey a newspaper editor; the other names here are little known. As photographers, all are believed to be amateurs. At first the club met in various places including Hovey's Boston Sunday Budget. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then located in Boston, then became a regular meeting place. Dues were relatively inexpensive—$5 annually plus a $3 admission fee.[2]

Boston Camera Club, 1886Edit

As amateur photography in the United States became more established, in 1886 the club changed its name to Boston Camera Club. The first regular (all-member) meeting of the renamed club was held October 7, 1886. On April 6, 1887 it incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, as the state styles itself, under the new name, stating as its purpose the furthering of "the knowledge of photography in all its branches and the promotion of social intercourse among the amateur photographers of Boston and vicinity."[3] The first president (1886–1890) of the incorporated club was electric car manufacturer George Edward Cabot. As of 1888 the club had 64 members.[4] By the end of the 19th century it was typically closer to 100. By now, dues were expensive—$20 annually.

50 Bromfield StreetEdit

Starting in 1886 the Boston Camera Club rented permanent headquarters at 50 Bromfield Street, Boston for some three-and-a-half decades. It may have been selected by being the business address of both club founder Thurston, a photo supplier, and early vice president Charles Henry Currier, a jeweler and commercial photographer.[5] It was also conveniently located near downtown photo-supply stores.[6] The club had eight rooms:

"Boston Types—Miss H" by Walter G. Chase, Boston Camera Club, c. 1896. Exhibited in the 1896 Washington Salon and Art Photographic Exhibition, Washington DC.
There is a well-selected library ...; a large exhibition gallery ...; a studio ... fitted with screens, cameras, and two of the finest Dallmeyer portrait lenses, also a fine double stereopticon; an enlarging room, with apparatus for making bromide enlargements, enlarged negatives and lantern slides by the use of an electric arc light; dark rooms....[7]

Apparently the building had an elevator. At 50 Bromfield the club held public exhibitions of work by its members and guest photographers.

Early 20th-century difficultiesEdit

In 1899 Boston-based journal Photo-Era, launched in 1898, said it had been "elected" the official organ of the Boston Camera Club.[8] The club's Joseph Prince Loud was on the journal's first board. From 1907 to 1920 the editor was the club's first permanent secretary and treasurer, photo supplier Wilfred A. French, son of Boston daguerreotypist Benjamin French. French continued as editor until at least 1924.

For reasons begging research, by 1908 the Boston Camera Club was facing difficulties, Photo-Era that year saying it had been "long been on the sick list."[9] Although it remained active, holding member exhibitions until at least 1912, minutes of 1913 by longtime secretary Thurston confirm membership had declined and its future was under discussion. Business meetings continued, but apparently far fewer regular meetings were held. The club was kept alive by Frank Roy Fraprie (FRAYP-ree), Phineas Hubbard (president 1908–1913, possibly longer), Horace A. Latimer, and the aging Thurston. The club, it is believed in 1924, left its longstanding 50 Bromfield Street location, and for some years it met at the Boston Young Men's Christian Union (YMCU). Amateur photography in Boston now seems to have been dominated by three entities—the Boston YMCU Camera Club (a different entity than Boston Camera Club's meetings at YMCU), extant from 1908 to at least the 1920s;[10] Boston Photo-Clan, extant about 1912–1921 and mentored by Boston commercial photographer John H. Garo at whose studio it met, of which Fraprie was a member as well;[11] and The Society of Arts and Crafts, Boston.

Horace A. Latimer bequest, 1931Edit

In 1931 a bequest by longtime club member Horace A. Latimer of Boston, an independently wealthy amateur photographer of some renown, for reasons not yet fully understood, dramatically reinvigorated the Boston Camera Club.[12] Membership rebounded, and with the return of servicemen after World War II it reached 286 in 1946. With the funds the club would purchase new headquarters. Temporarily it moved to 330 Newbury Street, in the Back Bay section of Boston.

351A Newbury Street, 1934–1980Edit

In 1934, with part of Horace Latimer's bequest the Boston Camera Club purchased and moved into another building, at nearby 351A Newbury Street, Back Bay. The club occupied three floors. There were a large and small exhibition gallery, darkroom, library, and kitchen. Public exhibitions of photography resumed. For tax purposes, in 1946 the club decided to sell no. 351A and remain in the building as a lessee.[13] Growth continued apace, reaching 547 in 1959—492 regular, 51 associate or corresponding,[14] and 4 honorary members—a size maintained for perhaps two decades. Besides post-war prosperity, the growth is attributable to introduction of 35mm film by Kodak in the 1930s, and single lens reflex (SLR) 35mm cameras by Nikon, Pentax and others in the 1960s. In this era, enthusiasts often sought instruction in camera use by joining a camera club.

Brookline, 1980–presentEdit

Because of the owner's pending sale of the building, in 1980 the Boston Camera Club had to vacate 351A Newbury Street. The club left Boston, relocating to the adjacent town of Brookline, Mass., its meeting place today. In 1997 it relocated again, moving across town to its present headquarters in Brookline.

Meanwhile, for the second time in its history, in the 1980s and 1990s membership declined dramatically. The trend is attributed to a number of factors—camera automation, for example autofocus and programmed exposure which reduced the need for user training; the advent of consumer video; and changing social mores. Starting in 2006, membership rebounded, due in large part to the club's emphasis on digital photography, increased promotion of the club, and its website.[15]


The exhibition history of the Boston Camera Club is long and somewhat complex. The club has hosted several species of shows: exhibitions by its members, joint shows with other camera clubs, exhibitions by outside photographers, and salons—judged competitive exhibitions of photography open to the international public.

Member exhibitions, 1880s–1910Edit

About the Boston Society of Amateur Photographers, as the club was first known, Sarah Greenough says its first shows "established many of the patterns and issues that would dominate future exhibitions" of photo clubs and societies in the U.S. In 1883 the club held its first exhibition at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an unusually large show of some 700 prints. The second exhibition in 1884 was held at the Boston Art Club. The third, in 1885, included male nudes, raising eyebrows in conservative Boston. In 1892 the club exhibited in the long-running triennial exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association. In 1893, judges in the club's annual exhibition included American painter Edmund C. Tarbell, and Boston photo studio owner and club honorary member Frank Rowell. In the club's 7th and 10th member exhibitions in 1895 and 1898, member Emma D. Sewall won the top award. Prominent also in the 1898 show were club members Sarah Jane Eddy and Boston personality Sarah Choate Sears.[16]

In 1898 the Boston Camera Club exhibited 250 prints by well-known Boston photographer and club member Fred Holland Day. About 1904 it exhibited its members' work at Day's studio in Boston.[17] The same year it helped organize, and exhibited in, a photograph exhibition at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, the St. Louis World's Fair. In 1907 the club showed the work of member Wendell G. Corthell. The club's annual show of 1910, which photographic journal Photo-Era called the club's "best for many years," had prints by Eddy, Frank R. Fraprie, Horace A. Latimer, and Joseph Prince Loud.[18]

Joint Exhibitions of Photography, 1887–1894Edit

Concurrently, Joint Exhibitions of Photography were held, sponsored by the Boston Camera Club, Photographic Society of Philadelphia, and Society of Amateur Photographers of New York, with the venue rotating annually among the three cities. There were seven exhibitions, in 1887–1889 and 1891–1894.[19] At first the three clubs shared in the preparation for each show. In the first Joint Exhibition, held in New York City in 1887, Joseph P. Loud and Horace A. Latimer received the Boston club's only diplomas. In the third exhibition in Philadelphia in 1889, Boston was represented by Wilfred A. French, Horace Latimer, and William Garrison Reed.[20] Starting with the fourth exhibition in New York City in 1891, collaborative preparation ended and each club individually ran the exhibition in the city in which it was held. That year Latimer exhibited the most prints from the Boston club. The fifth Joint Exhibition, held at the Boston Art Club in 1892, was a large show of over 600 objects including 18 prints by Alfred Stieglitz, future founder of the Photo-Secession, and 45 prints by Boston Camera Club member and high-speed photography pioneer Francis Blake, Jr., the first public showing of his work.[21] Of the sixth exhibition in Philadelphia in 1893, Stieglitz said, "It was, without doubt, the finest exhibition of photographs ever held in the United States, and probably was but once excelled in any country."[22]

First salon seriesEdit

The Boston Camera Club has had two series of photographic salons, or competitive exhibitions. The first series was held in the first decade of the 20th century, probably for only a few years. Presently only the second salon, held in 1906, has been identified.[23]

Boston Salon (International Exhibition) of Photography, 1932–1981Edit

After its revival by Horace Latimer's 1931 bequest, in 1932 the club launched an international competition, the Boston Salon of Photography, held 43 times over the next five decades.[24] In 1953 it was renamed the Boston International Exhibition of Photography, although informally it was often still called the "Boston salon." In 1953 as well, the Frank R. Fraprie Memorial Medal was created in recognition of Fraprie's role, along with Latimer, in having kept the club alive in the difficult years of 1913–1930.

At first the salon was limited to black-and-white prints. Starting in the 1954 International Exhibition, color slides (transparencies) were admitted as well. In 1959 a color print section was added. The 43rd and last exhibition was held in 1981, the club's centenary year. In discontinuing the international exhibitions, the club cited lack of manpower. Whereas earlier salons typically received hundreds of entries each, the 1981 exhibition required a man-year of labor to process over 3,200 prints and slides.[25]

Entrants of note in the Boston Salon and International Exhibition over the years included Croatian photographer Tošo Dabac, the 1937 medal winner. Competing by the 9th Salon in 1940 were Eleanor Parke Custis; and lifelong amateur photographer, and future U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. Noted pictorialist and longtime Baltimore Sun photographer A. Aubrey Bodine, competing by 1944, received the first Fraprie medal in 1953, winning it again in 1955 and 1959. Competing in this era as well was 1940s pictorialist Rowena Fruth. There was also longtime competitor Wellington Lee, who competed from 1950 to the last salon in 1981; Hong Kong-American photo prodigy, actor and director Fan Ho[26] who first competed in 1954 at age 17; and Mexican cinema director José Lorenzo Zakany Almada, who won the Boston Camera Club Medal in 1968.

Exhibition judges over the years include club members Cecil B. Atwater (president 1942–1944(?)); Leonard Craske; Custis (1943–1957); John W. Doscher; Adolf Fassbender; Arthur W. Heintzelman; Franklin I. Jordan; L. Whitney Standish; John H. Vondell; and Henry F. Weisenburger. Guest judges include Bodine in 1964.

Guest exhibitorsEdit

From the late 19th to at least the mid-20th century the Boston Camera Club had exhibitions by prominent outside photographers. In 1896 it showed work by Alfred Stieglitz. In 1899 it had shows by major figures Frances Benjamin Johnston[27] and Clarence White, the latter organized and hung by Fred Holland Day.[28] In 1900 it showed 150 photos by Gertrude Käsebier, an associate of Day's. Photo-Era called it "undoubtedly the finest collection of photographs ever seen" in Boston.[29] Also in this era, the club exhibited the work of English pioneer photographer Henry Peach Robinson, and German photographer Rudolph Dührkoop. There were other exhibitions by lesser-known photographers. In 1907 there was an exhibition by Frederick Haven Pratt of Worcester, Mass., a physiologist, educator, friend of Day's and, like the Boston club's Sarah Choate Sears, a Member of the Photo-Secession.[30]

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries U.S. camera clubs mounted exhibitions of each other's work. In 1908 the Boston club showed the work of two organizations in Buffalo, New York, and by the Capitol (Washington, D.C.) and Portland (Maine) Camera Clubs; and in 1909 by the Philadelphia Photographic Society.[31]

In 1940 the Boston Camera Club exhibited the work of Edward Weston,[32] and in 1950 Paul Gittings, Sr. In 1953 it exhibited the 1840s work of Scottish pioneers David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson (Hill and Adamson).

Later exhibitionsEdit

After the Boston Camera Club's revival in 1931, it moved temporarily to 330 Newbury Street, Boston. It is unknown whether this space had an exhibition room. The club's permanent facility at 351A Newbury Street, purchased in 1934, had a large gallery. Public exhibitions of outsiders' work in this period was mentioned; member shows have not been identified. Since 1980 when the club left no. 351A, it has had no gallery space, all member shows being held at other venues in the Boston area. The club exhibited at Boston City Hall in 1993; Griffin Museum of Photography, 1997; Boston's Hynes Convention Center, 2004; art and photo studios;[33] and camera stores in the Boston area.


In discharging the mandate of its 1887 state charter to promulgate the "knowledge of photography," since the beginning the Boston Camera Club has sponsored lectures and programs by expert members and guests. In an 1893 history of the club, member Benjamin Kimball said Boston camera manufacturer Thomas H. Blair gave the first known talk, on lenses; the year is unknown. The first documented lecture is a brief paper on the history of photography read to the club on February 5, 1883 by then-president William T. Brigham.[34]

In 1886 and 1890 club member Francis Blake, Jr. presented papers at the club on high-speed photography. In 1895 member Owen A. Eames presented his Eames Animatoscope, an early motion picture device (although one source says: "It is unlikely that projection was attempted."[35]) In 1897 Friedrich von Voigtländer, head of the Austrian optical firm of that surname, spoke to the club. In 1904, likely at his studio during the club's aforementioned show, Fred Holland Day presented a paper for which he was well known, "Is Photography a Fine Art?"[36] Many others lectured at the club in its early years.[37]

Guest speakers at the club for much of the 20th century have not been identified. In the 1970s and 1980s the Boston Camera Club had presentations by Marie Cosindas and Minor White. In the 1990s it sponsored day-long courses by Lou Jones, Frans Lanting, John Sexton, and others. Boston-area professionals such as staff photographers of the Boston Globe and Boston Herald, and instructors in Boston's New England School of Photography and other institutions, have long been regular club presenters and competition judges. Since the latter 1990s the Boston Camera Club regularly has had lectures and field trips in digital photography.

Other activitiesEdit

About 1888 members of the Boston Camera Club, including William Garrison Reed, undertook the Old Boston project, a "survey of buildings and farms for local archives," whose photographs, owned by the Boston Public Library, were rediscovered in 2007.[38]

During the 1890s members of the club pursued stereo, or 3–D, photography. Lantern slides, the forerunner of 20th-century color slides, were popular as well. In the 1940s the club offered entertainment and instruction to disabled World War II veterans at a Boston-area Army hospital.[39] In the 1950s and 1960s the club had a movie group and owned a movie projector.

Prominent membersEdit

Because the Boston Camera Club was founded before amateur photography was widespread, many early members were advanced practitioners—often "workers," in period parlance—and received some notice. A handful of members even made some advances in photo technology.

Since at least 1889 the Boston Camera Club has awarded honorary life memberships on two classes of deserving individuals: members giving extraordinary service to the club, and outside personalities in the Boston area for signal achievement in photography. As of 1889 there was one honorary member, well-known Boston studio photographer Frank Rowell. Whether he is the first honorary member begs research.[40]

19th centuryEdit

Among the founders of the Boston Society of Amateur Photographers, as the Boston Camera Club was known until 1886, some were noted locally, even nationally. First permanent vice president of the club James F. Babcock was a Boston chemistry professor who held several U.S. patents. Wilfred A. French, afore-noted editor and publisher of Photo-Era, was a founding member of a group called the National Historic Picture Guild.[41] About another early vice president, one of the few professional photographers in the club, William F. Robinson claims: "Of all New England's commercial photographers, the most gifted was Charles H. Currier."[42]

Prominent in the early club were Emma J. Fitz, painter Sarah Jane Eddy,[43] and Maine photography pioneer Emma D. Sewall.[44] Honorary member George Edward Cabot, first president of the club on its incorporation in 1887, was a partner in the Holtzer–Cabot electric car company, Boston. Another early honorary member was late-19th century lecturer Antonie Stölle, who presented innovative color slide-illustrated lectures on works of art.[45]

The Boston Camera Club counted two astronomers among its members, Percival Lowell and honorary member William Henry Pickering, an astrophotographer who discovered Saturn's moon Phoebe, worked on faster shutters for nighttime work, and furthered the cause of women in astronomy.[46]

Painter, photographer, Boston patron, and club member Sarah Choate Sears, heavily connected in the art world, was named a Member of the Photo-Secession by Alfred Stieglitz. In 1899 she had a solo exhibition at the club that included a portrait of Julia Ward Howe.[47] The same year she showed in the second Boston Arts and Crafts Exhibition.

Two collaborators of Alexander Graham Bell were honorary members of the Boston Camera Club. Prof. Charles "Charlie" Robert Cross is believed to have taught the first electrical engineering course in the U.S., at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1882–1883. Inventor and club vice president Francis Blake, Jr. is believed to have substantially helped the club financially in its early years. Blake's 1877 microphone enabled Bell's to become the predominant telephone brand in the U.S. In 1886, two weeks after the club changed its name to Boston Camera Club, he read an important paper on camera shutters, in which he did pioneering work. Although his work was likely not yet perfected, Elton W. Hall says the paper "established him as an expert in high-speed photography."[48] By 1890 he had achieved 1/2000-second exposure times, at which time he presented his full results to the club.[49]

Fred Holland Day, publisher, esthete, photography lecturer and mentor, and a leading U.S. artistic photographer of the late 19th and early 20th century, joined the Boston Camera Club in 1889. His membership was recommended by Frederick Alcott Pratt, a nephew and trustee of the literary estate of Louisa May Alcott and treasurer of the club, 1891–1893. Whether it suggests persons in this era had to be recommended for membership begs further inquiry. Although club records on Day are scant, he maintained ties with and supported the Boston and other area amateur photo organizations. Besides his 1898 show, 1904 "Fine Art" lecture, and aforementioned activities, he judged at least one exhibition at the club, in 1906.[50]

In 1896 a print by wealthy amateur Boston photographer Horace A. Latimer, today the club's best-remembered early member, was shown in an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution. Latimer, a yachting and international travel photographer, is the only known Boston Camera Club member published in Camera Notes, an organ of The Camera Club of New York, of which he was a member as well.[51] In gratitude to his 1931 bequest which revived the club's fortunes, the club's print critiques today are called the Horace A. Latimer Print Competitions.

20th and 21st centuriesEdit

In the first half of the 20th century three Boston Camera Club members were photographic authors and publishers. Wilfred A. French was mentioned. The prolific Frank Roy Fraprie headed American Photographic Publishing Co. and edited annuals American Amateur Photographer and American Annual of Photography. Honorary member Franklin Ingalls "Pop" Jordan was a photographic author and editor. Another personality, Adolf "Papa" Fassbender, the German-born New York City educator called a "one-man photographic institution," had a career of 72 years training thousands in photography.[52] In 1903 club member Wendell G. Corthell was a co-founder of the Salon Club of America, an artistic photographic group in opposition to Stieglitz's Photo-Secession. Another noted photographer was Lillian Baynes Griffin, an associate, or corresponding, member of the club, who joined in 1906.[53]

The Boston Camera Club had members who were non-photographic artists of note practicing photography secondarily. They include Gloucester (Massachusetts) Fisherman's Memorial sculptor Leonard Craske (KRASK); prolific Cape Ann, Massachusetts etcher, photographer, and author Samuel V. Chamberlain, an honorary member who wrote at least 45 photo-illustrated travel books;[54] painter Emil Albert Gruppé; and post-Secessionist photographer and watercolorist Eleanor Parke Custis.[55]

Photographic author, publisher, and honorary club member Arthur Hammond won top prize from organizers of the 1939 New York World's Fair for his photo of the fair's icons, the Trylon and Perisphere. Architect and author L. Whitney "Whit" Standish, club president, 1939–1942, was an influential honorary member who helped organize its weekly meetings, competitions, educational courses, and newsletter.[56] Noted etcher Arthur William Heintzelman, an honorary member, was first keeper of prints of Boston Public Library.

One of the most well-known figures in 20th-century photography, National Medal of Science (1973) recipient, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, and Boston Camera Club honorary member Harold E. "Doc" Edgerton greatly advanced the photographic strobe by achieving exposure times of one-millionth of a second, and had well-known extreme stop-action photographs in Life magazine. Lesser known are his night aerial strobe work for the Allied D-Day invasion in World War II, his co-founding of defense contractor EG&G, and his undersea explorations with Jacques Cousteau.[57]

Persons named honorary club members since the latter 20th century had achievements of note. H. Bradford Washburn, Jr. was a noted mountaineer, cartographer, aerial photographer, and longtime first director of the Boston Museum of Science.[58] Photojournalist Arthur Griffin was the best-known photographer of New England scenes in the mid-20th century.[59] Aeronautical engineer Henry F. Weisenburger, club president 1965–1967, a photographer since the 1940s who joined the club in 1954, was arguably the longest-active living exponent of amateur photography in New England. Leslie A. Campbell, noted promoter of amateur photography in western Massachusetts, in 1959 founded Massachusetts Camera Naturalists, a nature photography group. Lou Jones is a Boston-based commercial, Olympic Games, and jazz photographer, a photojournalist whose books include Final Exposure: Portraits from Death Row (1996), and photography educator.[60] Boston news photographer and camera salesman Gordon A. Hicks is the longest-known club member at 71 years, 1938–2009.


Eight Boston Camera Club members were Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences—Francis Blake, Jr. (1881), Samuel V. Chamberlain (1945), Charles Robert Cross (1877), Harold E. Edgerton (1956), Arthur W. Heintzelman (1958), Percival Lowell (1892), William Henry Pickering (1883), and H. Bradford Washburn, Jr. (1956).[61]

Club president (1980–1982) Daniel D. R. Charbonnet, Harold E. Edgerton, Adolf Fassbender, Frank R. Fraprie, Charles B. Phelps, Jr., and Allen G. Stimson were Honorary Fellows of the Photographic Society of America. Cecil B. Atwater, Leslie A. Campbell, Richard C. Cartwright, Eleanor Parke Custis, John W. Doscher, Adolf Fassbender, Rowena Fruth, Barbara Green, Arthur Hammond, Franklin I. Jordan, Richard W. St. Clair, L. Whitney Standish, John H. Vondell, and Edmund A. Woodle were Fellows.[62]

Edgerton, Fassbender, and Fraprie were Honorary Fellows of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain. Atwater, Doscher, Green, Hammond, and Jordan were Fellows, as is onetime member Richard Yee (Zhao Xianzao). Fred Holland Day was a member of British photographic society The Linked Ring.

Roydon (Roy) Burke and Henry F. Weisenburger were Master Members of the New England Camera Club Council.

Professional photographers Arthur Griffin was, and Lou Jones is, a member of the American Society of Media Photographers (Griffin charter member, Jones board of directors).


As it has for most of its existence, the Boston Camera Club meets weekly. Meetings are held at its Brookline, Massachusetts headquarters every Tuesday evening from September to June. The public is welcome at all meetings.

The club emphasizes digital photography. Activities range from beginner to advanced and comprise education, print competitions and critique, live-model formal portrait sessions; field trips, and inter-club competitions. Outside speakers and competition judges are regularly invited. The club communicates through its website and newsletter, The Reflector, launched in 1938 and published electronically. Starting in 2020, in the face of the worldwide coronavirus, the club continues its meetings and presentation online.

The Boston Camera Club, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational corporation registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is a member of New England Camera Club Council and Photographic Society of America.

Records of the Boston Camera Club, 1881–1971, are held by the Boston Athenaeum and are available to researchers by appointment. An archive of the club's newsletter, The Reflector, back to 1954 is online on the club's website.

Image galleryEdit

Related topicsEdit


BCC denotes Boston Camera Club.

Most links point to Hathi Trust and Internet Archive.

  1. ^ The oldest continuously extant camera club in the U.S. is the Photographic Society of Philadelphia, founded in 1862 and 19 years older than BCC. Founded mostly by professionals, it became amateur later. The third-oldest club is the Baltimore Camera Club. The first amateur photographic organization in the U.S. was the Amateur Photographic Exchange Club, NYC, extant 1861–1863, and revived twice in the later 20th c. Greenough, 268: "In 1880 there were fewer than 10 camera clubs or societies in the U.S., all of them composed mainly...of commercial photographers..."
  2. ^ Kimball, 1893. The Nov. 9, 1881 item, in the Boston Evening Transcript, is not online. The earliest known mention of the post-Nov. club is an announcement by secretary Thurston of formation of the Boston Society of Amateur Photographers in Photographic Times & Amer. Photographer, Dec. 1881, 457–458, viewable online. In the 19th c. MIT, now located across the Charles River in Cambridge, Mass., was simply the Institute of Technology.
  3. ^ BCC, Notice of First Meeting, Feb. 3, 1887. Commw. of Mass., "Religious, etc. Corporations / Certificate of Organization" under Mass. Pub. Statutes, ch. 115, sec. 4, etc., Feb. 25, 1887.
  4. ^ Boston Club Book for 1888, 62, first known club membership list in print.
  5. ^ Polito, 48. Robinson, 135–137, 223.
  6. ^ Boston Almanac & Business Directory, v56, 1891, 426 lists 3 photographers including Currier, and 6 photo suppliers & services including Thurston, on Bromfield St., which until the late 20th c. was Boston's prime camera retail district, and which today still has one of the city's only remaining camera stores. Also see King's How to See Boston, 1895, 92; and Thurston's business listings in Polito, 171.
  7. ^ W. B. Swift, "New England Camera Clubs," Photographic Times, Feb. 1901, 60–61.
  8. ^ Photo-Era: The American Journal of Photography, Jan. 1899, 203, the official organ of several other clubs as well. Its first issue, May 1898, 11–13 reviewed BCC's members' show of that yr.
  9. ^ Photo-Era, May 1908, 261–262.
  10. ^ Photo-Era, Apr. 1920, 214.
  11. ^ Photo-Era, Apr. 1912, 184. ▪ Amer. Photography, Dec. 1914, 742.
  12. ^ State of Maine, Last Will and Testament of Horace A. Latimer, Oct. 19, 1931. Latimer also bequeathed money to the Portland (Maine) Camera Club, founded in 1899, as a result of which, like BCC, it prospered and is still extant.
  13. ^ BCC, succession of 5-year leases, June 1, 1946 ff.
  14. ^ Starting in the 19th and ending in the early 21st c., the club had regular and associate members—corresponding members living beyond a 25-mile radius of Boston and paying half dues.
  15. ^ The first discussion and vote by the club on whether to admit digital images in its competitions were held in June 1995.
  16. ^ Greenough, 273. ▪ Robinson, 143. ▪ Mass. Charitable Mechanic Assn., Report of the 18th Triennial Exhibition, Boston, 1893, 175–181. ▪ Kimball, 192. ▪ "Boston Camera Club," NY Times, Apr. 14, 1895, 13. ▪ Photo-Era, afore-cited first issue.
  17. ^ Fanning, 85, 138, 223. Day's show at BCC ran March 8–19, 1898.
  18. ^ Photo-Era, July 1910, 48–49. ▪ For a photo by Corthell, and mention by noted critic Sadakichi Hartmann, see Amer. Amat. Photographer, July 1904, 296, 302, 303; photo, 299.
  19. ^ Greenough, 273.
  20. ^ Loud, club president 1897–1901. In 1884 Reed, club treasurer 1886–1890, photographed sites in eastern N. Carolina of interest to the 44th Mass. Regiment, in which he served in the Civil War. He also participated in the club's Old Boston project of photographing Boston's historic buildings.
  21. ^ Hall, 161. Among the better-known exhibitors were other BCC members Walter G. Chase, Currier, Eames, French, Benjamin Kimball, Latimer, and Loud; and from Philadelphia the noted William Herman Rau. Catherine Weed Barnes, "Boston Fifth Annual Joint Exhibition," Amer. Amateur Photographer, June 1892, 259–264.
  22. ^ Stieglitz, "The Joint Exhibition at Philadelphia," Amer. Amateur Photographer, v5, 1893, 201.
  23. ^ "Second Salon of the Boston Camera Club," Boston Daily Globe, May 13, 1906, 41.
  24. ^ Boston Art Club and BCC, Catalogue of the Third (First International) Salon, 1934. Whether the title indicates the salon started in 1932 and had its first overseas entrants in 1934 begs validation.
  25. ^ E.g., in the 1940 9th salon, the club received 1,747 prints from 457 entrants, of which 397 prints by 259 persons were accepted. (Catalog notes these figures were far higher than usual). By contrast, in 1981 3,291 entries were received from 788 entrants, of which 768 entries by 457 persons were accepted. The effort was led by former club president (1976–1979) and honorary member David F. Rodd, and then-president (1980–1982) Daniel D. R. Charbonnet.
  26. ^ See Fan Ho at IMDB.
  27. ^ Photo-Era, Apr. 1899, 292.
  28. ^ Fanning, 149.
  29. ^ Photo-Era, Apr. 1900, 128.
  30. ^ Not to be confused with the club's Frederick Alcott Pratt. See "Pratt, Frederick Haven,"; Fanning, 150. Also in 1907, the club showed Civil War photographs by Capt. D. Eldredge. Amer. Amateur Photographer, 1907.
  31. ^ Photo Era, Mar. 1909, 166.
  32. ^ American Photography. Jan. 1941, 73.
  33. ^ "Brookline Arts Center Welcomes Boston Camera Club...," Brookline HUB, Tue., Mar. 22, 2011.
  34. ^ Kimball, 189. Brigham, "The Dawn of Photography," 1883.
  35. ^ Who's Who of Victorian Cinema. Eames, BCC treasurer 1894–1896.
  36. ^ Fairbrother, 102 notes that the title and theme date to at least 1897, in an essay by a French critic.
  37. ^ See e.g. Boston Daily Globe, Feb. 17, 1890, 6; Nov. 11, 1890, 4; Dec. 7, 1906, 2.
  38. ^ Marsha Peters, Bernard Mergen, "Doing the Rest: The Uses of Photographs in American Studies," Amer. Quarterly, 1977, 281. See a description and illustrations by Boston Pub. Lib. of several Old Boston project photos.
  39. ^ Hillyer (see Further reading).
  40. ^ Boston Club Book for 1889, 46. Rowell is listed in Boston from 1859, and later as Allen & Rowell. Polito, 23–24, 115.
  41. ^ Robinson, 126; Polito, 63, 167.
  42. ^ Robinson, 135.
  43. ^ "Miss Emma J. Fitz," Amer. Amateur Photographer, Mar. 1899, 122–123; "Miss Sarah J. Eddy," 121–122. Eddy, a friend of Susan B. Anthony, painted portraits of her (1901 or 1902) and Frederick Douglass.
  44. ^ Abbie Sewall, Message through Time: The Photographs of Emma D. Sewall, 1836–1919 (Gardiner ME: Harpwell, 1989).
  45. ^ "Colored Lantern Slides: Fraulein Stolle's Reproduction of Famous Works of Art...," NY Times, Nov. 24, 1895, A20.
  46. ^ Lowell: Clark's Boston Blue Book, 1895, 439. Pickering: Robinson, 106–107, 230.
  47. ^ Photo-Era, Mar. 1899, 260–261. Member was the lowest of 3 ranks in the Photo-Secession, beneath Associate and Fellow.
  48. ^ Hall, 151.
  49. ^ Francis Blake, Jr., "Photographic Shutters," read at the club Apr. 14, 1890. Amer. Amateur Photographer, Feb. 1891, 67–73. ▪ Anthony's Photographic Bull., Mar. 5, 1891, 144–146; Mar. 28, 1891, 174–177; Apr. 25, 1891, 234–236. ▪ Hall, 155–156. ▪ Mass. Hist. Soc., Blake papers, v42. ▪ For a portrait of, and photograph by, Blake see Polito, facing 497. ▪ See also Francis Blake Laboratory Collection, Techantiques. Archived 2008-05-15 at the Wayback Machine
  50. ^ Day's membership was approved May 6, 1889 (BCC records), but he left the country in June, 1889 (Fairbrother, 21). Thereafter he seems not to appear in a casual search of club membership lists. Still, the club owns a photograph copy of a c.1891 receipt, signed by Pratt, for $15 membership dues from Day; and Fanning, 92 quotes the Washington Post in 1896 calling him "F. H. Day, of the Boston Camera Club." Day's 1906 judging: Fanning, 157, 235; mentoring: 158–159.
  51. ^ See a photo by Latimer in Camera Notes, Oct. 1901, 140 (Stieglitz, ed.) Another, "Water Carrier, Cuba" is the frontispiece, Oct. 1902 (Juan C. Abel, ed.) ▪ Brief (the title notwithstanding) technical item: "Mr. Latimer Expresses His Views Somewhat at Length," Pictorial Photography in Amer., 1921, 12–13. The Camera Club of New York was formed by merger in 1896 of the New York Camera Club and Society of Amateur Photographers of New York.
  52. ^ Fraprie: Robinson, 185, 186. Fassbender: Christian A. Peterson [et al.?], The Pictorial Artistry of Adolf Fassbender. [Intl. Photography Hall of Fame and Mus.?], 1994.
  53. ^ BCC minutes, 1906.
  54. ^ Robinson, 193–194, 221.
  55. ^ Jack Wright. "PSA Personalities: Eleanor Parke Custis, FPSA." Journal of the Photographic Soc. of Amer., Dec. 1945, 549–550. Eleanor Parke Custis, 1897–1983: Retrospective Exhibition, May 24 – June 21, 1986, Cambridge MA: James R. Bakker Antiques, c.1986.
  56. ^ Arthur Hammond, "Semi-Lunar," silver gelatin print, c.1939, collection BCC.
  57. ^ Edgerton, Engineering and Technology History Wiki; Roger R. Bruce, ed., Seeing the Unseen: Dr. Harold E. Edgerton and the Wonders of Strobe Alley, exhib. catalog (Geo. Eastman House; MIT, 1994). EG&G, the 'E' in whose name denotes 'E'dgerton, is now URS Federal Services.
  58. ^ Katharine Wroth, "High Art: The Astonishing Life & Work of Brad Washburn," Appalachian Mountain Club Outdoors (AMC Outdoors), Mar. 2004, 26–33.
  59. ^ Arthur Griffin had cover photos on Life and Time, and the first color photos in The Boston Globe, Saturday Evening Post and Yankee; published photo books on New England in collaboration with well-known authors; and in 1992 opened his Boston-area Griffin Museum of Photography. To view 7,800+ photos by Griffin search "Arthur+Griffin" at Digital Commonwealth.
  60. ^ Lou Jones, "Final Exposure: Portraits from Death Row," Mus. of The Natl. Center of Afro-American Artists, 2003. Jones website.
  61. ^ Amer. Acad. Arts & Sciences, Book of Members.
  62. ^ See Photographic Soc. of America honors list.


Boston Camera Club records & publicationsEdit

BCC denotes Boston Camera Club:




  • Notice of First Meeting. Feb. 3, 1887.
  • Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Religious, etc. Corporations / Certificate of Organization under Mass. Public Statutes, ch.115, sec.4, etc. Feb. 25, 1887.
  • Constitution, By-Laws and Rules. 1896.
  • Year Book, The. 1900. Smithsonian Institution Archives of Amer. Art. Microfilm reel 4858, frames 517–525. Officers, members, club rules, diagram of club rooms.
  • Reflector, The. Newsletter. First issue Feb. 1938. Earliest issues held by Boston Athenaeum. Others: BCC collection, incomplete.

Exhibition catalogsEdit

Selection. Chronologically:

  • Third Annual Joint Exhibition of Photographs. Soc. of Amateur Photographers of N.Y., Photographic Society of Philadelphia, Boston Camera Club. 1889.
  • Catalogue: Photographs: Boston Camera-Club, by the Courtesy of the Boston Art Club at Their Galleries. c.1892. (5th Joint Exhibition.) Harvard University.
  • Catalogue of Exhibits at the 5th Annual Joint the Boston Camera Club, 1892.
  • 6th Annual Exhibition. Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. 1893.
  • Catalogue of the 7th Annual Competitive Exhibition...of Boston Camera Club...1895. Held by Boston Athenaeum.
  • Exhibition catalog, booklet. BCC, 1900.
  • Catalogue of the Third (First Internatinoal) Salon. Boston Art Club, Boston Camera Club, 1934.
  • Boston Salon of Photography (from 1953 Boston International Exhibition of Photography). Various catalogs, 9th Salon, 1940 thru 43rd & last exhibition, 1981, inclusive. Incomplete. Collection BCC.

General sourcesEdit


  • Greenough, Sarah. "The Economic Incentives, Social Inducements, and Aesthetic Issues of American Pictorial Photography, 1880–1902." Martha A. Sandweiss, ed., Photography in 19th-C. America. Amon Carter Mus. (Ft. Worth), Abrams, 1991.
  • Polito, Ronald, ed. (Chris Steele & Polito, comp.) A Directory of Mass. Photographers, 1839–1900. Camden, Maine: Picton, 1993.
  • Pollack, Peter. The Picture History of Photography: From the Earliest Beginnings to the Present Day. Abrams, 1958.
  • Robinson, William F. A Certain Slant of Light: The First 100 Years of New England Photography. N.Y. Graphic Soc., 1980.



  • Boston Club Book for 1888, The. Boston: Edwin F. Clark, 62; 1889, 45–46. First known published lists of club members. Curiosities, 1889: Member George Snell: the noted Boston architect? John H. Thurston omitted; error?
  • Clark's Boston Blue Book. Boston: Edward E. Clark, 1878–1937. The 1895–1903 eds. list BCC officers & members. Not all yrs. online.
  • "New Dark Room for Boston Camera Club." Boston Daily Globe, Oct. 7, 1890, 4.
  • "Caught from the Sun: Marvellous Work in Photography by the Members of Boston Camera Club at Their Exhibition." Boston Daily Globe, Jan. 7, 1892, 10.
  • Kimball, Benjamin. "Boston Camera Club, The." New England Mag., Apr. 1893, 185–205.
  • "Studies in Classic Poses: Strong Exhibition of Photos Made at Boston Camera Club... ." Boston Daily Globe, Mar. 9, 1898, 7.
  • "Friends Played Joke: Got at Chief Petty Officer Jackson's Slides and Created Fun for Boston Camera Club." Boston Daily Globe, Apr. 9, 1909, 6.
  • French, Wilfred A. "Pictorial Attractions of Boston, The." Photo-Era, Aug. 1910, 64–71, 94–95.
  • ————. "Exposure Guides and Experience." Photo-Era, May 1920, 232–233, 262. Anecdote about an encounter on a club outing w/ prominent Boston photographer James Wallace Black outside historic Old South Meeting House in the 1880s.
  • Hillyer, Whit. "Six Prints from Boston: Progressive Schedules Crowded with Events at the Back Bay Clubhouse Add to the Impressive Record of Club's 65-Year History." Popular Photography, Mar. 1946, 40–41, 154. Includes photos by club members Harold Elliot, Frank R. Fraprie, Arthur Hammond, H. B. Hills, Franklin I. Jordan, and Barbara Standish.
  • Cleveland, Elizabeth F.; Daniel D. R. Charbonnet. "Boston Camera Club Centennial." ("Honoring Camera Clubs," n.14.) Phot. Soc. of Amer. J. (PSA Journal), Oct. 1981, 32.


Works about:

  • Blake, Francis, Jr. — Davis, Keith F. "The High-Speed Photographs of Francis Blake." Mass. Hist. Rev., v2, 2000, 1–26.
  • ————. Hall, Elton W. Francis Blake: An Inventor's Life, 1850–1913. Mass. Hist. Soc., 2003, ch. 9, 142–166.
  • Day, Fred Holland — Fairbrother, Trevor. Making a Presence: F. Holland Day in Artistic Photography. Andover MA: Addison Gal. of Amer. Art, 2012.
  • ————. Fanning, Patricia J. Through an Uncommon Lens: The Life & Photography of F. Holland Day. U. Mass., 2008.
  • Latimer, Horace A. — "Horace A. Latimer: A Man of Mystery: Recluse Millionaire Was Expert Photographer." Obituary, Boston Globe, Sep. 19, 1931, 16.
  • Jordan, Franklin I. — "Pop Sez —." Amer. Photography, Mar. 1950, 28.
  • Washburn, H. Bradford, Jr. — Rowan, Roy. "On a Bungled Flight to Nowhere, They Sought a Chinese Mountain High: When a Ballpoint Pen Czar and a Hotshot Pilot Went Looking for the World's Tallest Peak, All They Found Was Trouble." Smithsonian, Mar. 1998.

Photograph holdings:

  • Blake, Francis, Jr. — Mass. Historical Society. 2,000+ photos, plus papers. Only a few listed; viewable.
  • Currier, Charles Henry, Photographs of Middle Class Life in Boston, 1890s–1910sLib. of Congress. 523 photos held. Blurb; no listing.
  • Day, Fred Holland — Lib. of Congress. Largest-known holding. c.750 entries, incl. photos, some displayable. Functionality cryptic; image size varies, thumbnails to full.
  • French, Wilfred A. — Historic New England. Mostly 17th-c. houses, eastern Mass., 1880s. Several albums. Blurbs for each; not displayable.
  • Griffin, Arthur — Griffin Museum of Photography (Griffin, founder), Winchester, Mass. 7,000 photos held by museum online at Digital Commonwealth; 7,800 at Digital Public Lib. of Amer. Full-size. Boston; Massachusetts; New England; politics; sports; historic.
  • Sears, Sarah Choate — Harvard Univ.N.Y. Public Library.
  • Weisenburger, Henry F. — Univ. Florida, Gainesville.
  • Also institutional holdings of Eleanor Parke Custis; Harold E. Edgerton; Adolf Fassbender; Emil Albert Gruppé; L. Whitney Standish; H. Bradford Washburn.

Life dates of some persons mentionedEdit

Cecil B. Atwater, 1886–1981; James F. Babcock, 1844–1897; Francis Blake, Jr., 1850–1913; Aldine Aubrey Bodine, 1906–1970; Roydon Burke, 1901–1993; George Edward Cabot, 1861–1946; Leslie A. Campbell, 1925–2020; Samuel V. Chamberlain, 1895–1975; Daniel D. R. Charbonnet, 1943–2020; Wendell G(urney?) Corthell, 1844?–1915; Marie Cosindas, 1923–2017; Leonard Craske, 1882–1950; Charles Robert Cross, 1848–1921; Charles Henry Currier, 1851–1938; Eleanor Parke Custis, 1897–1983; Fred (sic; his birth name) Holland Day, 1864–1933; John W. Doscher, d. after 1971; Rudolph Dührkoop, 1848–1918; Sarah Jane Eddy, 1851–1945; Harold Eugene Edgerton, 1903–1990; Adolf Fassbender, 1884–1980; Frank Roy Fraprie, 1874–1951; Rowena Fruth, 1896–1983; Barry Goldwater, 1909–1998; Arthur Leo Griffin, 1903–2001; Lillian Baynes Griffin, 1871–1916; Emil Albert Gruppé, 1896–1978; Arthur Hammond, 1880–1962; Arthur William Heintzelman, 1891–1965; Gordon Adna Hicks, 1909–2009; Fan Ho, 1937–2016; Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1864–1952; Lou Jones, 1945–; Franklin Ingalls Jordan, 1876–1956; Gertrude Käsebier, 1852–1934; Horace A(lbert?) Latimer, 1860–1931; Percival Lowell, 1855–1916; Charles B. Phelps, Jr., 1891–1949; William Henry Pickering, 1858–1938; Frederick Alcott Pratt, 1863–1910; Frederick Haven Pratt, 1873–1958; Henry Peach Robinson, 1830–1901; David F. Rodd, 1948–2017; Sarah Carlisle Choate Sears, 1858–1935; Emma D. Sewall, 1836–1919; L. Whitney Standish, 1919–?; Alfred Stieglitz, 1864–1946; Allen G. Stimson, ?–1996; John H. Vondell, ?–c.1967; Henry Bradford Washburn, Jr., 1910–2007; Edward Weston, 1886–1958; Henry F. Weisenburger, 1924–2021; Clarence White, 1871–1925; Edmund A. Woodle, 1918–2007.

Coordinates: 42°20′14.59″N 71°8′32.02″W / 42.3373861°N 71.1422278°W / 42.3373861; -71.1422278