In 1899, a group of photographic societies and camera clubs in the north of England came together to form the Yorkshire Photographic Union. Soon after, five other photographic federations were founded by societies and clubs in Northumberland and Durham (1901), Scotland (1903), Lancashire and Cheshire (1905), the Midlands (1907), and East Anglia (1910). These umbrella organisations supported their federated members by coordinating the circulation of photographic materials, lecturers, and judges, and by organising joint meetings, outings, and competitions. At a time when formal photographic education was still in its infancy and largely open to professionals only, and in line with this period’s concerns with rational recreation and mutual support, the photographic federations fostered opportunities for a growing body of amateur photographers to learn from one another. This article reconstructs the largely under-researched emergence of these organisations, and asks what their educational project tells us about their understanding of how people ought to be taught and learn photography, and the values and meanings that they attached to these practices. It reveals that their vision was shaped not simply by a desire to combine instruction with sociability but, most fundamentally, by the recognition that the acquisition of theoretical and practical photographic knowledge depended on collaborative practices. The article argues that doing photography with others at the level of clubs and societies had brought them first to imagine, and then to realise, an educational infrastructure that conceptualised the transmission of photographic knowledge as a shared social responsibility supported by a cooperative network.