Going for Qualification

by | Qualifications, Royal Photographic Society

The importance of going for qualification

Qualifications are described as a benchmark of excellence.

There are three qualifications recognised by all the photography associations and societies; Licentiateship, Associateship and

Fellowship. Each qualification reflects increasing levels of experience, skill and achievement. There are several associations and societies to choose from and each has their own requirements for each level, as they all vary I will not be going in to them in great details. Here are the links for the 2 that I am a member of – The RPS and The Societies.

2016 has been a busy year for me in terms of qualifications and distinctions. I have taken over the role of Organiser of the Advisory Days for the Western region of The Royal Photographic Society. I have also attended a judging course run by The Societies with an aim of becoming one of their judges – I just need to gain my Fellowship first. And the year has not yet finished!

So whilst I may not be fully qualified as a judge yet, I have been attended many sessions over the past 5 years and picked up countless snippets on how you can help your images gain a recognised qualification.

Over the coming weeks I will be posting a series of blogs looking at different aspects of the qualification process and sharing some hints and tips answer some of the most frequently asked questions and to help you along your journey.

In particular I’ll be looking at:

The arguments of a Digital submission V a Print submission

Preparing a panel for qualification

How to create a contact sheet/hanging plan in Lightroom

How to create a contact sheet/hanging plan in Photoshop

The benefits of attending advisory days

Writing a Statement of Intent

What to expect on an Assessment day

How to size images for online sharing, (not essential for qualification but useful for sharing your good news on social media after you’ve passed.)

Inserting Metadata, (again not essential but useful)


If there are any other areas you’d like me to cover please let me know.


What are the benefits of gaining a qualification?

The opportunity to put letters after your name.

Your standard of work approved and acknowledged by your peers

A boost for your business, in terms of publicity.

The possibility of having an edge over your competitors.

A set of great images to hang on your wall.

Are there any drawbacks?

Cost: as with all things these days, everything comes at a price and attaining a qualification is no exception. Don’t forget to factor in the cost of attendance at Advisory days and travel, if applicable, as well as the costs of prints and mounts of your panel.

Disappointment: the judges want people to pass and the decision to reject a panel isn’t taken lightly but when it happens the disappointment can be very hard to accept.

As you can see there are benefits and drawbacks as there are with most things but I think the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

So why go for a qualification?

As I stated earlier in the post, qualifications are described as a benchmark of excellence and can be used to measure your progress as a photographer. And judging by the “benefits” you could say it’s a pretty exhaustive list with plenty of good reasons to go for a qualification.

But for me going for a qualification is about more than just a list. It’s also about stepping outside your personal boundaries, setting yourself a challenge and pushing your limits to another level, to learn something new and to achieve an end goal.

Over the past 5 years I have submitted 5 panels to The RPS and The Societies, 3 at Licentiate level and 2 at Associate level, and over the coming months I will be submitting another Associate panel whilst working on a potential Fellowship panel – yes, you could say putting panels together is addictive! But with each body of work I have learnt something; lots of new skills and techniques both in the studio and in the digital darkroom, more about a particular subject, how to overcome adversity, solve problems, work to a non-existent budget, directing people skills (something not required with insects) and most importantly – more about myself.

And whilst nothing beats the great sense of achievement when you’ve passed, for me personally with the last panel, the most important bit was going on the journey of self discovery, the ups and downs, and wondering where it would finally take me – only to discover the journey’s not over yet!

In the next post I’ll be looking at the arguments for a digital submission v a printed submission.

If you like this article and think others may benefit, please feel free to share.

** Disclaimer Notice: Please note that the views and observations in this series of posts are purely my own and are not in any way, shape, or form sanctioned by the Royal Photographic Society, The Societies or any of the other photographic organisations or associations. So please check the criteria of your chosen organisation before submitting for your qualification – Good Luck.


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