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Why is the Fellowship of the Royal Photographic Society so desired by amateur photographers? Probably for the kudos and sense of achievement for those who have reached the top of the slippery pole.

The criteria for the F in the visual art category is distinguished work. We know of the many Associateships gained, a much smaller number of candidates will become Fellows. The reasons why are many, I feel those who don’t attempt an F believe they are not capable of the achievement. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. How do we achieve our full potential unless we start the journey with a single step?

Images for Fellowship must be of an outstanding photographic and creative standard. Also, expected at the highest level is a personal vision and style.

Where are the goalposts?

Another major reason confronting the would-be applicant is where are the Goalposts?

Fellowship is not about the mastery of technique. Your technique was assessed at Associate level. Hence, the ability to photograph, print and present your work is not what is being assessed. Fellowship is not about continuing the mindset of an Associateship with better pictures. If that is your reasoning, then you haven’t begun to understand the hill in front of you.

Advisory Days

The RPS regions organise many Distinctions Advisory Days around the country. These workshops will be of general assistance whatever level you are entering at. However, all comments received are only the opinion of a well-meaning bystander in effect. The commenter may be a member of the assessment panel but they cannot speak for the whole team.

Thinking about an F?

For those thinking about creating ideas for an F you need to have a broad agenda. To your benefit will be incorporating concepts, inspirations and a holistic understanding of photography. A narrow view generated from the desire to win competitions will not be beneficial to your cause.

Those who seek a Fellowship will fare much better if you have your own style of:

seeing – design, emotion and mood
subject matter selection
picture selection

Working in a Competition/Salon style your creative individuality may not have been fully developed. Competition style may not generate the kind of outstanding individual and distinctive work that is expected and sought by the Fellowship assessment panel.

Individual and distinctive work

If you have a highly individualistic panel as I did, there is an argument that says do not seek advice prior to the assessment. I did not seek advice from a panel member I just submitted it knowing that it was a definite yes or a definite no. This was a very high risk situation, only recommended to the brave and courageous. Fortunately for me, once the chairman had asked the question “is this individual and distinctive work?” the assessment panel agreed after a long discussion. This was back in 1990 when you could attend your own Fellowship assessment.

I still remember the sense of achievement and elation that continued for weeks after attending the assessment.

Give your Fellowship a better chance of succeeding with Distinctions advice.

My successful Fellowship Panel

Awarded April 1990 for distinguished pictorial photography

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