by Brian Pitkin

Reproduced from in focus 44 (March/April 1992)

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 triggered flashbulbs.

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 Kensington.

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 1992)