History of the Alameda Photographic Society

The Alameda Photographic Society was formed in 1940 as a result of a discussion between Jan Curtis, then the librarian of the Alameda Free Library, and Dr. Arthur L. Guerra.  They had the idea of forming a camera club where enthusiasts could gather to exchange ideas and experiences, and generally to be helpful to each other in both the artistic and technical aspects of photography.  About 50 members joined the club in 1940.  The first officers were: Dr. Arthur L. Guerra, President, W.D. Auerback, Vice-President; Irene Williamson, Secretary; Walter DeBold, Treasurer, and Frank D. Killinger, Member-at-Large. 

The club’s activities now span more than six decades.  During the first year, programs were started that have become club traditions. Field trips, which began in 1940 with a visit to the Alaska Packers dock on Paru Street, have been sponsored several times each year, visiting photogenic spots in Northern and Central California and Nevada. 

The first annual banquet was held in the Hotel Alameda in March 1941.  Postmaster Ford E. Samuel was the guest speaker and the cost per person was $1.25. By 1946 the price had risen to $1.75, and that year, at the sixth annual banquet, the guest speaker was Ansel Adams. 

Friendly competition has been a club mainstay since the beginning, not only for members but also in the form of public contest which began in 1940 with prizes for the best photographs of the Taylor eucalyptus tree at Central and Park Avenues, followed that December with a contest for photos of Alameda’s outdoor Christmas lights. 

The war years were busy, in spite of losing many members to services.  The Worlds Fair on Treasure Island was a favorite photographic subject. After a visit, each member would bring 12 slides to show at the club meetings.

One of the club’s wartime programs proved very popular. Service wives who had babies less than one year of age and whose husbands had not yet been able to see their little ones could have free photos taken by APS members.  The pictures were sent to the father through the Alameda Red Cross. 

In 1950 the Woodland Camera Forum versus the Alameda Photographic Society “feud” started.  An annual dinner and competition between the two clubs began to “further interclub relations and promote a keener interest in photography”.  Members would travel to the location of the host club, to Woodland on the even-numbered years and Alameda on the odd.  This friendly feud lasted for 39 years, until February 1989, and was the highlight of each year.

A highlight of the ‘70’s was the dedication of the new dark room at the Alameda Girls Club by APS and named “The Barbara Stevenson Dark Room”. Members of the club would work with the young girls to take pictures, as well as process the film, print the photos, and mat or frame them.  This was continued through the ‘80s.

In the ‘90s APS began annual shows in May at the Alameda Historical Museum, 2324 Alameda Avenue. APS also began a rotating show at the Alameda City Hall. These show are open to all APS members.  We encourage all of our members to participate in the annual show at the Alameda Historical Museum, but we no longer host shows at City Hall.

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