Photography News Issue 53

Photography News | Issue 53 |

Interview 24

AndyMoore LRPS Profile Andy Moore is the Distinctions manager of the Royal Photographic Society. Here he explains what the letters LRPS, ARPS and FRPS mean – and how you too can have letters after your name

PN: The RPS is a very long-established organisation promoting photography. When did you first become part of it and how did you start? AM: Yes, we are the oldest photographic organisation. I came from a business background so working for an educational charity is very different – and extremely rewarding. During my 12 years here the number of Distinctions applications has increased by more than 60%. I have met some amazing photographers and what pleases me most is when we help people develop a personal style, and I was extremely proud in November 2011 when I gained my LRPS. Your job title is Distinctions manager, so what does that encompass? I oversee the busy Distinctions department, working with Ben Fox ARPS and Simon Vercoe LRPS. We make a great team: different skills and strong collectively. I spend a lot of time liaising with the 90 volunteers involved in Distinctions, including arranging advisory days and assessment days. I never lose sight that the RPS is all about images. They come in from all over the world. It’s a fascinating job. What is the aim of the RPS Distinctions? The aim underpins the central tenet of the RPS: to help people improve their knowledge and understanding of photography. There are three levels of Distinction: LRPS (licentiate) means you are a good all-round photographer; ARPS (associate) confirms your technical skills and creative ability in a particular genre; FRPS (fellow) is a demonstration that you have perfected a personal photographic style and are working at the very highest level. What value do you think they have, particularly as there seem to be so many distinctions around? RPS Distinctions are the gold standard throughout the world. Any one of them is a considerable achievement and each photographer can choose their own personal route through them. Even people who can’t quite achieve the required standard say their journey has made them much better photographers because it gives them a focus and a structure. Many famous photographers have an RPS Distinction so anyone who achieves one is joining an illustrious group. Can anyone apply for a Distinction or do you have to be an RPS member? Distinctions are open to anyone of any agewho can take images, use images or write about images. We have had successes in Distinctions from 11 years old to 84 years old. You can use a camera picked up at a jumble sale, your camera phone or top-end DSLRs – we never ask which equipment you use because it is all about YOU as a photographer. You don’t have to be an RPS member to apply for LRPS or ARPS, but to retain your Distinction, you must be a member – you are a licentiate or associate member, or a fellow of the Society.

Above Stephen Hutchin’s love of cold, ice and snow came out in his successful A panel. “The RPS Distinction process provided me with an entirely new direction and challenge. It has rekindled my love of photography”, he says. Left Andy Moore achieves what you say you want it to achieve. It is your choice whether you use film, video, pinhole, Polaroid or build-your-own camera. The categories don't seem very clear to the uninitiated. What does Applied embrace, for example? And although there is a Natural History category, why not action, landscape and portrait categories? There is cross-over between the categories which is why your intention, as outlined in the statement of intent, is vital. Let’s take the Isle of Skye as an example. Lovely images of the landscapes and seascapes which give a sense of time and place: Travel. Images showing how people earn a living which are then published in the tourist board brochure (therefore an end use): Applied. Birds and seals: Nature. Images taken over time to show erosion because of man’s despoliation of the landscape: Contemporary. Lovely artistic images of wave and sand patterns: Fine Art. So we cater for all styles. Within these categories we see lots of examples of landscape, action and portrait shots. If in doubt please email us at In the same way, urban/street photography is very popular – so where does that fit? You are absolutely right: this genre is

So,withtheLRPSbeing the first stepandthe FRPS the highest accolade, does that mean the pass standard goes up correspondingly? Put another way, is the percentage failure rate for the FRPS much higher than for the A and L awards? Yes. You would expect the highest level to be the most difficult to achieve otherwise it would not be worth striving for. We have 600 applications a year at LRPS level (for which you need to submit ten images), 400 for ARPS (15 images) and 100 for FRPS (20 or 21 images). Percentage pass rates are not an accurate reflection of the system as we do not control what individuals wish to submit, but it is true to say that around 70% of submissions are successful at LRPS. What we concentrate on is helping everyone to succeed if they possibly can with online advice, one-to-one advice and advisory days. In 2018 we are concentrating on improving feedback so that if people don’t succeed at the first attempt they know precisely why and will be in a much better position next time round. Do you think the current Distinctions reflect what is happening in modern imaging? Many more pictures are taken on camera phones and tablets than DSLRs and mirrorless cameras – should Distinctions embrace such capture methods? We already do! What we assess is the final image, not how it is taken. If you swim across crocodile infested waters to get that fantastic travel shot; if you fly a drone over an airbase (with permission!) – that’s fine but not relevant to the assessment process. We are only interested in the end product and whether it

We concentrate on helping everyone to succeed with online and one-to-one advice, and advisory days

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