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About the RPS

Learn about our history, mission and key activities, governance, team, and where to find us

The Royal Photographic Society was founded in 1853 with the objective of making the art and science of photography more widely available. The international charitable organisation is dedicated to increasing the knowledge and understanding of photography and film, supporting photographers, and inspiring public engagement. The RPS is one of the world’s oldest photographic societies.

The RPS offers a diverse education programme which includes exhibitions, talks, workshops and symposia which are held at a world-class gallery and auditorium at Paintworks, Bristol, as well as at venues across the UK, internationally and online. Internationally-recognised qualifications, such as Distinctions, set new challenges, enhance skills and stimulate creativity.

At the heart of the organisation’s charitable endeavours is a commitment to supporting young and emerging photographers. Alongside visits and resources, an annual bursary scheme offers sponsorship for environmental, postgraduate and social documentary research.

RPS membership is open to all, irrespective of knowledge or experience, and is an opportunity to join a unique community of over 11,000 photographers worldwide. Members enjoy a wealth of benefits including the chance to join like-minded photographers at special interest and regional groups.

The RPS Awards are an annual celebration of excellence and innovation in photography. The fifteen categories recognise those individuals who have made outstanding contributions in their fields, spanning art, science, education, film and publishing.

The Royal Photographic Society Gallery in Bristol will reopen in May 2021 with the exhibition In Progress.

1858 Exhibition
CREDIT: Charles Thurston Thompson, 1858 copyright Victoria and Albert Museum, London