Photographic Distinctions

There are a number of Photographic Distinctions available to club photographers, the main ones are discussed below.

PAGB Awards

The PAGB Awards for Photographic Merit are based on an assessment of a portfolio of images.  These are judged as individual images, mixed in with other entrants, so there is no requirement for the images to be linked by any theme.  There are 3 levels of award, with different entry criteria:-

  • Credit (CPAGB) – Good Club Photography standard.  Minimum 2 years active club membership (ie 2 years of participation in club competitions).
  • Distinction (DPAGB) – Open Exhibition Photography standard. Minimum 3 years active club membership.
  • Master (MPAGB) – Highest Standard of UK Amateur Photography.  Minimum 5 years active club membership.

Assessments are held twice a year and applications are via the local federation – in our case the L&CPU.  Full details are available at the PAGB website.

BPE Crown Awards

The British Photographic Exhibitions are a collection of exhibitions run by photographic societies across the country, which are open to any UK based photographer.  Acceptance of an image into a BPE exhibition counts as one point towards a Crown Award, which entitles the photographer to use the letters acknowledging their award after their name.  The BPE crowns are awarded as follows:-

  • BPE1 Crown Award – 25 points
  • BPE2 Crown Award – 50 points
  • BPE3 Crown Award – 100 points
  • BPE4 Crown Award – 200 points
  • BPE5 Crown Award – 300 points

Beyond BPE5 Crown there are ABPE and FBPE levels which require a number of Awards as well as Acceptances. Full details are available at the BPE websiteFor a list of exhibitions currently open for entries, see the What’s On Page.

Royal Photographic Society Awards

The Royal Photographic Society offer 3 levels of awards:-

  • LRPS – Licentiate of the RPS
  • ARPS – Associate of the RPS
  • FRPS – Fellowship of the RPS

At each level it is required to submit a number of images, which are judged as a set and therefore should follow a particular theme and be designed to hang together.  The awards are only open to RPS members, for which there is an annual fee.

More details are available at the RPS Web Site.

FIAP Awards

FIAP awards are provided by the International Federation of Photographic Art, and similar to the BPE awards are gained by achieving a certain number of acceptances into FIAP approved international exhibitions.  There are 10 levels starting at AFIAP, through to EFIAP Diamond 3, and at each level there are rules regarding not just the number of acceptances achieved, but also the number of different images accepted and the number of countries in which acceptances have been achieved.

A description of the FIAP awards is available at the PAGB website, whilst a list of FIAP exhibitions is available at the FIAP Patronage page.  Currently there are 9 FIAP exhibitions annually in England, 2 in Scotland and 1 in Wales, but many more around the world.

PSA Awards

PSA Awards are provided by the Photographic Society of America and are similar to FIAP Awards in that they are gained by achieving acceptances into exhibitions. Indeed many international exhibitions are sponsored by both FIAP and PSA, so it is possible to work towards both accreditations simultaneously. PSA Awards are only available to members of the PSA, for which there is an annual fee.

The PSA is divided into several ‘divisions’, such as Colour, Mono, Nature etc and in working towards PSA awards it is necessary to first verify acceptances by receiving star ratings for achieving a number of acceptances in exhibition categories sponsored by each Division – for example, entries into the Open Colour category of an exhibition would contribute towards a Digital Colour star award. Stars are awarded starting with 18 acceptances for 1 star, up to 288 acceptances for 5 Star. Once acceptances are verified via the star system,  PSA awards are given for achieving a number of star verified acceptances (accumulated across all divisions), starting with QPSA (Qualified) with 56 acceptances, progressing through 10 levels up to Grand Master Platinum with a whopping 11,000 acceptances.

Full details are a available at the PSA website.