The Southern Photographic Federation was created on the 26th June 1963, nee the Hants and South Wilts Photographic Federation. It was a reluctant birth, born out of the Central Association of Photographic Societies, and it was four years before the link with the CA was finally severed.

If the SF can be attributed to one person it is Andrew Pearson of the Southampton Camera Club who identified grumblings around the club-rooms about the organisation of photography and developed the film of those complaints. The first print was the General Meeting which established the Federation with sixteen founder members:

Aldershot CC, Havant CC, Alton CC, Itchen Valley CC, Andover PS, Ordnance Survey PS, Basingstoke CC, Portsmouth CC, Bournemouth CC, Portsmouth and Southsea CC, CEGB Social Club PS, Salisbury CC, Folland Aircraft PS, Southampton CC, Gosport CC, Winchester PS

The idea for the Federation grew from the dissatisfaction with the CA whose nearly 300 member clubs covered so wide a geographic area that it was impractical for many of them to participate in CA functions and delegates’ meetings. Proposals were submitted to divide the CA into districts which were to be largely autonomous but still functioning under the umbrella of the CA. The rejection of these proposals precipitated the UDI of the Southern Photographic Federation although in the early days strenuous efforts were made to remain in the CA fold. Federation member clubs had to be members of the CA and a representative of the SF was elected to the CA committee.

However, the CA appeared to have set its face against recognising that provincial clubs were not necessarily best served by an organisation centred on London, and after a number of suggestions for reform had been rejected and following the introduction of compromise measures to cater for smaller clubs, it was decided at the 1967 AGM that the requirement that SF members clubs belong to the CA be rescinded.

With the emergence at this time of a number of clubs which were sections of sports and social clubs and whose needs had not been met by the CA-linked Federation, the way to membership was now open to those and other smaller clubs who similarly gained nothing by membership of the CA. The temporary resignation of the Bournemouth CC from membership of the Federation followed by the longer resignation of the Winchester PS did not deter the other clubs from joining the federation; by 1969 the number of member clubs had risen to 29 and reached 60 in 1983.

From time to time over the years the affiliation of the SF to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain had been proposed, but the notion foundered for lack of support. The PAGB is the central body for organised photography in the UK and is itself divided into a number of regional bodies of which the CA is one.

During 1983 affiliation was once more proposed from the floor at a quarterly meeting. The Council provided all member clubs with a background paper on the subject and sought their view in time for the 1984 AGM. A large majority of those responding being in favour, the Council were required at that meeting to make the necessary application to the PAGB. This required negotiation with neighbouring Federations to agree boundaries. Agreement was not reached with the CA. Nevertheless, our application was submitted at the PAGB’s AGM in April 1985 our admission was agreed and the SF became the thirteenth Federation to become members of the Alliance. Thus access to the wider fields of national and international exhibitions (through FIAP) has been achieved for all our members.

The SF is one of fifteen Federations which comprise the Alliance. The member clubs of these Federations are automatically affiliated to the Alliance. Each club receives the Alliance Handbook which lists the various services available and gives the names and addresses of judges and lecturers for all the Federations, these being available to every club. The handbook also lists the principal officers of each Federation. The PAGB organises national events.