You may notice that some club members who have letters after their name. Whilst at first they may seem gobbledygook they represent various distinctions awarded to them by prestigious photographic bodies.
The Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain
The RPS covers all aspects of photography, professional and amateur. Membership is open to anyone with an interest in photography. Its headquarters is in Bath, making membership particularly attractive to photographers in this area.
The RPS hold frequent exhibitions and events in Bath and throughout the UK. These exhibitions are excellent places to see different genres of photography.
In addition the RPS has many specialist interest groups that promote particular aspects of photography. It has a well developed regional structure and hosts programme of several hundred events across the country each year.
The RPS grants distinctions for three levels of achievement. You have to be an RPS member to hold and use any of these distinctions
LRPS – Licentiate of the RPS
The first level Licentiate is open to all members of The Royal Photographic Society.
Non-members may also apply. If they are successful, the Distinction will not be approved until they have become members.
The Licentiate is awarded either for competence in practical photography, or by passing of an appropriate examination in photography recognised by the society (such as a degree).
To achieve the LRPS you are be required to submit 10 prints, or slides or digital images on a DVD as evidence for your application in still photography. Awards can also be achieved in audio-visual photography where applicants have to demonstrate their ability of film making on sequenc lasting not less than 10 minutes.
To qualify images must be of a high standard of photographic execution – demanding but achievable for most dedicated photographers. Applicants must show variety in approach and techniques but not necessarily in subject matter.
ARPS – Associate of the RPS
Members and non-members of the RPS can apply for Associate membership. Associate membership is only awarded if the applicant can demonstrate a consistently high standard of proficiency and technical competence.
To obtain the ARPS you you are required to submit 15 prints, slides, or digital images images on or a 15 mins sequence in AV. To qualify you have to submit mages of exceptional standard and a written Statement of Intent (what you hoped to achieve).
This is a significant step up from the LRPS. At this stage creative ability and personal style (what makes your work unique to you), along with complete control of the technical aspects of photography must be evident. It is at this level that you can first choose to submit your work to a particular specialist category.
FRPS – Fellow of the RPS
Fellowship is the highest distinction of The Royal Photographic Society given in recognition of original work and outstanding ability in a specialist field. It is only normally open to Associate’s of the RPS but photographers with an established reputation may apply direct, based on their CV, references, publications and exhibitions, even if they are non-members of the society. In most categories the applicant is required to submit either 20 prints or transparencies, or 20 minutes of Audio Visual sequence, or 20 minutes of film or video.
Fellowship is the highest level of Distinction awarded by RPS. Images must be of an outstanding photographic and creative standard and accompanied by a Statement of Intent. An obvious personal style is expected at this stage. You need to have achieved the ARPS before you can apply for the FRPS.
PAGB: Photographic Alliance of Great Britain
The PAGB also awards three levels of distinction for photographic merit, which can be attempted by anybody who has had work accepted in recognised competition or exhibitions, and gained the requisite number of points.
Most camera clubs are affiliated to the PAGB which is divided into 15 regional Federations. Wales has its own Federation.
The PAGB provides patronage for regional, national and international competitions and hold inter-federation print and projected image competitions.
- Awards for Photographic Merit (APM) in still images
- Awards for Photographic Merit (APM) in audio-visual sequences
- Meritorious Service Awards
These awards are achieved at different levels.
- CPAGB (Credit) represents a ‘Good Club Standard’
- DPAGB (Diploma) represents ‘Open Exhibition Standard’
- MPAGB (Master) represents the Highest Standard of Amateur Photography’
These are not to be confused with APAGB which is an honour, awarded to recognise a person who has given outstanding service to photographers and clubs within the PAGB.
Federation Internationale de l’Art Photographique (FIAP)
FIAP grants two types of award, the first for service to photography and the second for achievement in international exhibitions and salons sponsored by FIAP. These latter awards are also linked to substantial periods of active participation in such events.
ESFIAP – Excellence in Service
This award is made for substantial service at national and international level to photography. There are never more than a handful held at any one time, rarely more than one or two per country. The fact that only fourteen have ever been issued to UK residents in over 40 years will give an idea of its standing.
Hon. FIAP – Honorary FIAP Membership
This is an even higher award, usually given to holders of ESFIAP for prolonged service to FIAP. Four have so far been granted to UK Residents.
International exhibition/salon achievement awards: The more common awards are …
AFIAP – Artiste FIAP
The minimum requirements are that over a period of no less than 1 year the applicant has supported exhibitions/salons worldwide, has received at least two awards and 30 acceptances from 10 different salons, in at least five countries. A ‘circuit’ counts as only one salon. Entering the same salon in different year’s counts as separate salons. England, Scotland and Wales count as separate countries. These conditions apply for both AFIAP and EFIAP.
EFIAP – Excellence FIAP
An application for EFIAP cannot be made less than 1 year after receiving AFIAP. Including those from AFIAP acceptances, applicants must have gained at least 5 awards and 150 Acceptances from at 50 different photographs. These must be received from at least 30 different salons in at least 15 different countries. (see AFIAP re conditions about salons & countries)
- EFIAP/b – Excellence FIAP Bronze Award
- EFIAP/s – Excellence FIAP Silver Award
- EFIAP/g – Excellence FIAP Gold Award
- EFIAP/p – Excellence FIAP Platinum Award
FIAP created a worldwide system of photographic Distinctions to encourage photographers to take part in international events, whereby each entry accepted in FIAP supported Salons or Exhibitions is given a point towards a Distinction:
- AFIAP-Artist FIAP
- EFIAP- Excellence FIAP
- EFIAP/b-EFIAP Bronze
- EFIAP/s- EFIAP Silver
- EFIAP/g-EFIAP Gold
- EFIAP/p–EFIAP Platinum;
- MFIAP-Master Photographer FIAP
These further awards are subject to a scale of achievement in International Salons and Exhibitions achieved over a period on no less than 1 year. Applicants must holders of EFIAP or MFIAP and are required, from all new work to achieve a minimum of achievement on an accumulating scale:
- Bronze – 75 acceptances from 25 images & submit 3 prints totalling 4 awards in 4 countries.
- Silver – 150 acceptances from 50 images & submit 4 prints totalling 5 awards in 5 countries.
- Gold – 300 acceptances from 100 images & submit 5 prints totalling 6 awards in 6 countries.
- Platinum 600 acceptances from 200 images & submit 6 prints totalling 7 awards in 7 countries.All AFIAP and EFIAP awards to any level can be achieved by an appropriate mix of media, ie prints, slides and digital files etc.
Welsh Photographic Federation
The WPF offers photographers the opportunity to challenge themselves to gain a photographic distinction called the A.W.P.F. or the Associateship of the Welsh Photographic Federation. The distinction is assessed annually and is open to all photographers throughout the world wishing to obtain an AWPF. See additional info
The calendar on the WPF home page will show the date of the assessment for the current year.
Workshops are held to help applicants prepare their application
What is the standard? Is your work good enough? To get an idea you can view successful panels from the last five years in the AWPF Distinctions Gallery here. Older panels in the Archives section at the bottom of the Gallery.
AWPF is an excellent starting place for those who want to gain a recognised distinction.