This year the British Society of Underwater
Photographers celebrates its 25th anniversary. Founded back in 1967
by Peter Scoones and Colin Doeg, who were brought together by a
wrongly addressed competition entry, the Society had a very modest
beginning (see Colin's articles 'Those were the days' Part 1 and
'Those were the days'
Part 2). The Society's aims were much the same as they are today - to
encourage and develop underwater photography in all its aspects from
slides to cine and video.
Meetings in the early days were held in member's
houses and all participants were eager to share their pioneering
underwater photographic experiences. At that time, most members were
housing their own land cameras and the methods employed had varying
degrees of success. Sharing their experiences helped overcome some of
the problems and resulted in some exceptional photographs frequently
taken with available light only or in combination with unreliably
As interest in underwater photography increased so
the Society outgrew the members' front rooms. More than 1200
underwater photographers have joined BSoUP in the last 25 years,
although only about a quarter of these, including the two founders,
are current members.
The Society has held its monthly meetings in a
succession of different venues ranging from the Bull and Mouth in
Bloomsbury, through the Sherlock Holmes in Baker Street, to the
Challoner Club in Knightsbridge and Imperial College in South
We now hold their monthly meetings on the third
Wednesday of each month at the Holland Club, Sherfield Building,
Imperial College, South Kensington at 7.30 for 8.00 p.m.
Since December 1984,the Society has produced a more
or less regular bimonthly newsletter, IN
FOCUS. This is sent to all members and contains news of meetings,
festivals and competitions worldwide, items on underwater
photography, sites, equipment, readers letters and equipment and book
reviews, gear for sale, photo dive charters and expeditions. All
members are strongly encouraged to submit copy to IN FOCUS.
Some members are particularly keen to participate
in photographic competitions. For those who have yet to win a major
prize, there is an annual Beginner's Portfolio
Competition for the Diver Trophy and a cash prize donated by
Diver Magazine. There is also an annual Best of British Competition
for the BSoUP Trophy and an annual Open Portfolio Competition.
The Society organises an annual Splash-in in Plymouth, Devon and this
is linked to a photographic competition. One feature of this event is
a competition for the best picture taken underwater in the vicinity
on the day. For the past five years this event has been sponsored by
AGFA (UK) Ltd who have provided all film and processing chemicals.
Exposed films are processed by volunteers the same evening and then
judged by all the members and their guests who are present at the
viewing, This year's event takes place on Saturday 6 June.
BSoUP members have dominated most home-based
national and international competitions such as the Brighton Festivals and Cameras Beneath the Waves. Some have
gone on to win overseas International events including the CMAS World Championships.
Others have distinguished themselves in the world of television and
cinema as cinematographers and or directors of advertisements,
natural history documentaries and feature films, some of which are
being shown over the weekend at CPEX'92.
The Society has organised two film festivals in the
past, - one held at the Commonwealth Institute in 1980, hosted by
Canadian cinematographer Stanton Waterman and sponsored by BSoUP and
the BSAC; and the other in 1985, 'Underwater
Photography 85', featuring two world premiers.
In more recent times BSoUP has been responsible for
the film shows at CPEX and in addition to
showing a superb selection of underwater films this year will be
mounting a display of some of the best pictures taken by members over
the last 25 years to mark its Silver Anniversary.
Reproduced from in focus 44 (March/April