History of CAPA

The Canadian Association for Photographic Art was born in 1998 because of a merger between the National Association for Photographic Art (NAPA) and the Colour Photographic Association of Canada (CPAC).

The following is a brief history of CAPA.

CPAC traces its beginnings back to May 1947, when a small group of amateur photographers met in Toronto to organize a national association. The formation of CPAC was advertised in photographic magazines, enticing camera clubs across Canada to join the new organization. The Colour Photographic Guild of Halifax was the first to join. In November 1949, a board of directors was elected and Alice Payne Stark became the first President of CPAC. CPAC sponsored its first convention on colour photography in 1953 and again in 1957. Other conventions followed until declining membership was unable to support such undertakings.

In the spring of 1967, a small group of Canadian photographers met to discuss the need for a Canadian association that promoted all aspects of photography, including black and white imagery. CPAC was not destined to expand its interests beyond that of colour. An exchange of ideas continued and on December, 1967, NAPA was born.

NAPA assisted Canadian photographers with exhibitions, competitions, conferences, workshops and its long-running fine art magazine, Camera Canada. Membership grew from an initial 225 individuals and 40 clubs to several thousand individuals and over 100 clubs.

The success of NAPA would not have been achieved without the untiring and unselfish efforts of many people, including the executive officers, directors and chairmen of our association. Our first President, Lloyd C. Kitchen, through his strong leadership and sound administrative ability, laid a solid base for NAPA’s growth and popularity.

Joan Powell, editor of Fotoflash, did a marvelous job in preparing the publication, which kept us informed and up to date about the happenings in the field of Canadian photography. Our national office managers, from Helen Hancock through to our current Lee Smith, have played major roles in keeping the organizations on course.

Freeman Patterson was instrumental with his foresight during the planning stages. As editor-in-chief of Camera Canada, he helped bring to fruition many of the aims and objectives set forth in the charter, granted in 1969. He continues to impress and instruct Canadians with his many fine images, books and workshops across the country.

NAPA underwent large changes around 1994 when the head office was moved from Ontario to its present location in British Columbia. Camera Canada simultaneously received a new printer, lithograph service and editorial staff.

As an unprecedented two-term president of NAPA, Dr. Bob Ito supervised and took on much of the labour involved in these transitions by himself, from moving the office equipment to setting up the new computer system. Dr. Ito is a member of the board of directors to this day, and is now our Director of Photographic Imaging. We continue to rely on his advice for matters of importance.

NAPA and CPAC operated independently until both boards of directors met in Toronto in the winter of 1996. The feeling was mutual that one group would better serve the needs and desires of Canadian photographers. It took two years to work through the logistics until both groups finally emerged united as the Canadian Association for Photographic Art (CAPA).

The strengths of both groups were adopted and maintained as the services and functions provided by the new organization. Honours, awards and scholarship programs were refined. New exhibitions and competitions, allowing more room for innovative photographers’ thinking, were added. Computer generated and manipulated work found a place for appreciation, along with dye and emulsion transfer experimentation. Abstract artists even had a forum of their own. And digital photography has now been thoroughly integrated through and through.

Camera Canada magazine evolved into a more informational Fotoflash Journal, which further flourished and changed to the current Canadian Camera magazine, featuring portfolios and articles by CAPA members and clubs. Many editors, printers and advertisers have been involved in shaping the fabric of our popular quarterly publication, most notably Doug Boult, Joy McDonell, and currently Sheena Wilkie.

The Canadian Photography Conference (formerly Canadian Camera Conference, and Camera Canada College) continues to be CAPA’s premier annual summer conference, and after a five-year hiatus, was revived in 2011. Originally based around the Annual Print Exhibit and subsequent Traveling Salon, slides and digital images photographers eventually found a forum in this prestigious venue, during CCC ’93. The extended weekend of workshops and field trips continues to be very popular with our members and the public.

Where do we go from here? CAPA’s direction will continue to ride on the efforts of its volunteers and the enthusiasm of its members. From the traditional darkrooms to the world of digital imaging, CAPA will keep pace and evolve, helping Canadian artists leave their mark on the wonderful world of photography!