On June 16, 1932, the late J. Haden Hankins and William Edwin Booth started the Amateur Photographers Club (APC) with George B. Fleming as the first president and Leslie Stansbury as secretary. Anyone having an interest in photography was eligible to join. Earlier, Stansbury had introduced Hankins, a printer and microscopist, and Booth, an artist who was star-gazing through a 26 inch focal length telescope with a 2-inch lens. They decided to combine their interests and started to study books on photography, which had been borrowed from the Richmond Public Library, in order to learn how to photograph the intricate designs produced in the skeletons of diatoms (microscopic plants found in ditch water). At first, meetings were held in the homes of the members on alternate Wednesday evenings. Once a month a professional photographer was selected to judge print competitions.
In April 1933, it was decided to add the services of an artist in order to balance the principles of pictorial photography with those of painting. In January 1934, Dr. E.H. Ingersoll was elected vice-president, the first one to serve in that capacity. In May, William S. Simpson took over as press agent from Booth and in June the Club began to meet in the YMCA building at 7th and East Grace Streets. We left there in July to meet in the new Richmond Academy of Arts, 1006 East Capitol Street, where a completely equipped studio for the use by our members was opened in December 1934. On October 3, 1935, Thomas C. Colt, director of the new Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, offered the club a meeting place. This offer was accepted and the Club was incorporated that year with a membership that topped 100! In 1936 the Virginia Museum wished to start a permanent collection of photographic works and requested that three medal prints from the Virginia Photographic Salon be donated. This was done, and with the addition of two more, the collection was five exhibition prints, one by S. Wary Selden, one by C. C. Cowen and three by W. Edwin Booth. The Club had meeting rooms and a studio at John Slavin's, 118 North Third Street in October 1936, and that year in the month of December adopted a new constitution. 35mm Kodachrome film was introduced that year, and soon thereafter a color slide division was added to the competition. In July, Thomas C. Yeaman, assistant print director, took over the job of assembling a Traveling Club Print Exhibit. The CCR became an affiliate of the Photographic Society of America (PSA) in 1937. This year was marked by another move to a new studio at 14 South Seventh Street, where a darkroom was added in October. Under the direction of J.W.Lemay, the first CCR Photo School, with the Club paying a portion of the tuition, was started October 18, 1938.
In the years that followed, the Club established meeting places in such locations as the Board Room of the Bank of Virginia, 8th and East Main Streets, the Esso Building on West Broad Street, the AAA building on West Broad St, the C&P Telephone building on Nansemond Street, the Seaboard Coastline building on West Broad Street, the Fidelity Building, 9th and East Main Streets, and the Bank of Virginia Building, Vault Level Auditorium, 7 North Eight Street. In August of 2002, the CCR moved to the Bon Air Library at Rattlesnake Road off Buford Road. The Club met there until January 2005, when the meeting location was changed to the Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad Street, as it remained until 2013 when we moved to the Holiday Inn Crossroads. In May 2017, Club meetings moved to Chamberlayne Heights United Methodist Church, Richmond and Zoom virtual meetings starting in April 2020 with hybrid in-person/Zoom meetings commencing April 2022.
After 90 years of service to our community, the Club's original aims continue to be dedicated to the furtherance of photographic knowledge and to the thesis that photography is indeed a fine art. The divisions of monochrome prints, color prints, and digital works carry on to enhance the joy of photography and to embrace the changes in the photographic world.
By Carole Hagaman - Updated March 2022