Tips on getting the LRPS Distinction

25 June 2014

Region: Headquarters

Geoff Harris LRPS shares tips on attaining a successful LRPS Distinction:

So, I was finally granted my LRPS in April 2014, and I passed first time. Getting this distinction was a great experience, and I learned a lot by going through it. Here are some tips and insights I have for anyone who's either thinking of doing the LRPS, or is in the middle of preparing for it. Several people helped me a lot, so hopefully I can help, too!

  • Read the handbook: as somebody from the RPS explained to me "the assessors don't need to like your images, they just need to be sure they meet the required standard." This is actually a really important distinction. The images in your must panel don't need to be great examples of photographic art but they must be technically competent, by which they need to be well composed, well exposed (ie no burnt out highlights or excessive shadow) and as sharp as they need to be. The handbook explains it in detail. PS: you don't need to have a theme for the LRPS panel. Mine had a strong travel theme, but that's more to do with the fact that I am a lousy landscape/macro photographer!

  • Variety is key: when I decided to do the LRPS back in 2011, I hadn't properly read the handbook, so the first panel I submitted for early feedback was criticised as it didn't show enough variety. I'd provided a series of black and white portraits taken on the street in Bangkok, and although I got some good feedback on individual images, they didn't show enough variety as a panel. I have since discovered that you don't need to photograph 10 DIFFERENT genres or subjects, but you need to make sure your panel shows a variety of techniques and were taken in a variety of different lighting conditions. So in my final panel I tried to include indoor shots, outdoor shots, wide aperture portraits, portraits with more depth of field, flash being used to freeze action, panning, and so on.

  • Go to an advisory day: it's really important to go along to an advisory, or feedback, day. As well as getting a better sense of the standard required, the RPS advisors will give you a strong steer on what are your strongest and weakest images. Several of my prized images were trashed, which annoyed me a bit at the time, but in hindight this was invaluable. Often you are too close to your work to make objective decisions. If you can't take feedback on the chin and learn from it, you won't get through the RPS distinction process.

  • Obsess about blown out highlights, poor focus and oversharpening: from what I understand these are key reasons to fail. Make sure the highlight warning is on in your camera or photo editing software, and check sharpness at 100%. If you are in doubt about an image, don't submit it.

  • Give yourself enough time for printing: I left my printing to the last minute, and it was very stressful. You need plenty of time to pick the right paper (I went for expensive art paper as it really lifted the colours), do the prints (or order them) and mount the images. You are marked on presentation so give yourself plenty of time to get it right. I could only do really do my final hanging plan once I had all the physical prints, but in the meantime, you need to think about how the images lead in the eye, and how colours and themes complement each other. Mixing colour and black and white is a bit risky but it's probably less risky is your panel is less themed than mine. Ensure a black and white image is really benefitting from losing the colour though. Don't use mono to hide poor technique or messy composition.

  • Last but not least, don't panic! I almost withdrew a few days before as I didn't think my panel was strong enough. Don't be put off by other panels you see online, just because they are really good doesn't mean yours is rubbish. Do your best with your panel and then let go of the outcome!

To view Geoff's successful LRPS gallery please click here.

    Comments (9)

    Steve G Smith
    08 July 2018

    Congratulations Geoff. Good reading your advice, which answered a lot of questions I needed to know. You have now given me the confidence to start planning and eventually to go for it.


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    02 August 2017

    Great advice, thanks, most useful. And great images by the way!

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    Patricia Wilden
    12 June 2016

    Thank you sounds really good advice!

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    19 April 2016

    Thanks Geoff. I did have on question as I submitted some images for feedback and on one in particular, I was surprised as they commented on a small patch of blown out highlights which I had done deliberately for the purposes of emphasis. So even though I feel the image would be a worse photo for reducing these, I should be doing this for the submission?

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    15 August 2015

    Very valuable advice. I share Claire's feeling about the comment on "photographic art."

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    13 November 2014


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    26 June 2014

    "The images in your panel don't need to be great examples of photographic art but they must be technically competent" - i must say, that there's something about this sentiment that really depresses me.

    Lovely images in your panel though, congrats.

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    26 June 2014

    Thank you Geoff and Congratulations… this is very useful feedback .. I started to pull together a panel with my local camera club's help .. but I was far from ready … hoping to have another attempt between now and Christmas if I can … did you get your printing done by an outside agency or do it yourself ?

    Best Jonathan (Cooper)

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    26 June 2014

    Firstly Geoff 'Congratulations' on your distinction and I love your images.

    This post is very helpful as I am looking at starting LRPS soon - thank you.


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