Associate Royal Photographic Society  (ARPS)

There are several distinctions that photographers can work towards, some involve the submission of images for assessment by a panel of judges, while others involve the photographer gaining a number of acceptances into a number of international photographic exhibitions.


One of the longest running and most prestigious of these awards are the distinctions awarded by the Royal Photographic Society  (The RPS).  The RPS originally had two distinctions, the ARPS and the higher FRPS, but a few years ago a third level of LRPS was added.

The first level is the LRPS, followed by the ARPS, with the highest achievement being the FRPS.  Photographers can enter at either LRPS or ARPS level, but they need to hold an ARPS before they can apply for assessment for an FRPS.

Each distinction consists of a different number of images (10 for LRPS, 15 for ARPS, and 20 for FRPS) and must be submitted as a cohesive panel, with both a title and a mission statement.



Further details of the RPS Royal Photographic Distinctions
can be found on their Website

Royal Photographic Society - Distinctions




A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to work towards gaining an RPS distinction, but did not do anything about this.  But In June 2014, I was asked by a few friends to join them on an advisory day for an ARPS submission which was being held in London.
I attended the workshop and it proved to be an enjoyable day.  I did not take a panel but instead took about 25 mounted prints and a further 30 images on A4 paper.  My images seemed to go down well and as a result several people suggesting I should submit an entry.


After returning from the ARPS advisory day, I decided to submit a panel of photographs for consideration for my ARPS.  I started working on the contents of my panel, several images were considered, many were changed, and quite a few different panel versions were studied on my computer.
I finally chose my fifteen images.  These were all printed and mounted to a high quality, they looked very new, fresh, and hopefully stood out as a original panel with maximum impact.



My ARPS submission was a panel was entitled "Northern Wilderness"

It was submitted to the RPS at their headquarters in Bath during September 2014.

The panel was submitted in the hanging plan shown below.


One Wednesday morning a few weeks later, the alarm went off at 4.45 and I got out of bed ready for the drive down to the RPS headquarters in Bath where the assessment was taking place.  Applicants do not have to attend the assessment, but I thought it would be worthwhile going along and watching the process for myself.  This also has the added benefit that you are not sitting at home for several days wondering how it went and waiting to hear your results.

The assessment in Bath was due to see 17 panels being presented one by one to the judging panel who sat in a formal line at the front of the room.  Each panel was taken out of its box and carefully placed for everyone to view on hanging rails at the front of the room.  The assessment started with the photographers "statement of intent" (which must be under 150 words) being read out.

The adjudicators then studied each panel before they give their secret vote.  The chairman then invited the adjudicators to give some feedback comments for everyone to hear.
Next comes the bit that everyone is waiting for.  The chairman of the adjudication committee announces if the panel was successful or not along with any summing up comments the chairman wishes to give on the panel.


My panel was panel ten of the day and the mood in the room was quite low as there had not been a successful panel by the time my panel was shown to the judges.

As with all of the panels, everyone in the room is watching what is happening, trying to gauge the body language of the judges and silently attempting to guess what the outcome will be.

Then after several long minutes,  I was very pleased to hear the chairman announce that my panel was being recommended for an ARPS.  It was a great feeling when this was immediately followed by lots of clapping, cheering, hugging and handshakes and my result really lifted the mood for the rest of the day.

I travelled to the assesment in Bath with Hazel, a friend from the same local photography society that I also attend.  Earlier in the year, Hazel had who had already earnt her ARPS, and she carefully wrote down all of the comments that were said.  I was also very really pleased with some lovely feedback comments from both the chairman of the judges and the judging panel members some of of their comments I have copied below.

"Very, Very nice panel"

"Best panel seen for some time"

"Good example of what a Natural History A should be - a lesson"

Later in the day, the RPS Nature group chairman also asked if the society could hold back my panel for use at future RPS events.   My panel will be used as an example panel for Natural History advisory days.  The RPS also said it will hopefully feature in their "Celebration of distinctions" exhibition".  This is a great honour.


below is a a digital version of the 15 panel prints.

Image 1 : White Tailed Eagle
Image 2 : Great Spotted Woodpecker
Image 3 : Pine Marten
Image 4 : Great Reed Warbler
Image 5 : Osprey
Image 6 :  Polar Bear
Image 7 : Willow Grouse
Image 8 : Red Fox
Image 9 - Pine Grosbeak
Image 10 : Arctic Fox
Image 11 : Brown Hare
Image 12 - Black Throated Diver
Image 13 - Kingfisher
Image 14 - Black Grouse
Image 15 - European Brown Bear