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Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Updates

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A temporary section for FAQs surrounding the changes we're making during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Q: Are any advisory days taking place?
A: For the time being we have had to cancel all volunteer led activities which would result in a groups of people. This will change in time and in accordance with government advice. Please consider applying for a 1:1 Portfolio Review which was set up in response to the cancellation of advisory days. 

Q: Are any Assessments taking place?
A: **Updated August 2020** Assessment are taking place throughout the Autumn subject to any further imposed lock-down restrictions. These assessments welcome the return of Print assessments as well as Images for Screen and Book. However, to provide Staff and Panel Members with a safe environment in which to run these assessments, we are unable to open our doors to any audience members.   

Q: I want to apply for an assessment, where should I send my application form?
A: Please do not send your application form to us in the post. RPS House remains closed to the Public for 2020 and Staff are mainly working from home. Where possible, please complete the form on your computer and email a copy to To assist with the ease of processing applications, please also consider paying for your assessment via PayPal. 

Q: I sent my Portfolio to you before my assessment was cancelled, do I need it to be returned?
If you sent your prints to us before we cancelled the assessments, please don't worry. You should have received an email stating that we have received your work. Your submission will be kept in our store room until we are able to resume the print assessments in the Autumn or until we are able to return it to you once travel and social distancing restrictions have been lifted. 

Q: I haven't sent my Portfolio to you yet. When should I send it?
A: **Updated August 2020** Please try to ensure that your portfolio is delivered to RPS House on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday, as this is when a member of staff will be available to take delivery.  

Portfolios can be personally delivered to us at RPS House. We will be following Government Guidelines and request that you do too. On arrival, we ask that you drop your portfolio off outside the main entrance, you will then be asked to step back to allow a member of staff to safely retrieve your portfolio. All portfolios will then be stored for a minimum of 72 hours before being unpacked.  

Due to the changes of procedure, you may wish to consider paying for return postage. Please email if you wish to add this to your booking.  

Under no circumstances will you be allowed to enter RPS House. 

Q: I'd like to attend an assessment taking place in the Autumn, will this be ok?
A: **Updated August 2020**
 Due to Covid-19 and the layout of our auditorium, we are unable to host our assessments with an audience present. 

Q: How will print assessments be run between September & December?
A:**Updated August 2020** 
Physical prints can once again be assessed at RPS House. However, it has been necessary to make a few changes to the process to ensure the health and safety of our staff and volunteers. While RPS House remains closed to the public, each assessment will have a limited number of Distinctions staff and one print expert present.

The panel members and Chair will join the assessment via video. They will receive the digital images to assess against the criteria which is not reliant on seeing the physical prints. They will assess on content only; technical questions and concerns will be dealt with by the print expert.

Licentiate Criteria:
- Visual Awareness
- Communication
- Overall Impression

Associate & Fellowship Criteria:
- A Statement of Intent that defines the purpose of the work, identifying its aims and objectives.
- A cohesive body of work that depicts and communicates the aims and objectives set out in the Statement of intent.
- A body of work that communicates an individual’s vision and understanding.

It is important to make each assessment consistent and fair, so panel members will have the opportunity to ask the  print expert to check any of the prints on their behalf and report back on the following:

Licentiate Criteria: 
- Camera work & Technical Quality 

Associate Criteria: 
- A high level of technical ability using techniques and photographic practices appropriate to the subject.
- An appropriate and high level of understanding of craft and artistic presentation.

Please note: the print expert does not have a vote

Fellowship only
Applicants also needs to show “a submission that demonstrates a distinctive and distinguished body of work” and also "The highest level of understanding of craft and artistic presentation" ( instead of high for the Associate).

General Questions

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Q: Can I apply for the Associate distinction if I don't already have the Licentiate?
A: Anyone can apply for the Associate regardless of whether they have a Licentiate distinction or not, but we would only suggest doing so if you have a number of years of photographic experience. However, the final decision is entirely down to the applicant.

Q: Can I use my Associate images for my Fellowship submission?
No, your Fellowship submission needs to be a different body of work.

Q: Can I mix monochrome and colour images within my proposed panel?
A: Yes you can. This is perhaps more appropriate for the Licentiate distinction due to the nature of the criteria.

Q: I need a mentor, can you put me in contact with a panel member?
A: The RPS doesn’t officially provide a mentoring service, we can guide you and give advice and guidance throughout your application.

Q: Do I have to wait two years before I apply for an another level of Distinction after I've been successful?
There is no time period set. Although it’s generally suggested to wait and not rush into it.


Q: Do I pay more for membership when I gain a Licentiate, Associate or Fellowship?
No, your membership subscription does not change.

Q: For my Fellowship submission, do I have to submit to the same genre as my Associate submission?
No, You can change genres.

Questions about Print Format

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Q: What's a Hanging Plan?
A: A hanging plan is a visual reference for your presentation of prints. It displays your images as thumbnails printed on A4 paper, representing the desired layout of your printed images. It is used for reference by the Chairman and Distinctions Staff. We've created some templates for you to use click here to view them. 

Q: What size prints should I submit?
We suggest that an A4 print is more than adequate for assessing. However, the final print size is for the applicant to decide on. It's worth bearing in mind that the maximum height between the display rails is 23" (585mm). Each display rail is 21ft (6.4m) in length. 

Q: What's the maximum dimension of the display area?
The maximum height between the display rails is 23” (585mm). The maximum length of the display area is 21ft (6.4m).

Questions about Images For Screen

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Q: What's a Sequence Plan?
A: A sequence plan is a visual reference for the order in which your images will be projected. It displays your images as thumbnails on an A4 page, representing the numerical order of your digital images.
Please note: It is important to remember that Images For Screen are displayed in sequence, one image at a time.  

Questions about Assessments

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Q: Where can I find assessment dates?
A: You can find assessment dates on the individual distinction pages.

Q: Can I observe an assessment? and if so, how do I book?
A: Our Licentiate and Associate assessments are open to observers. If you would like to attend, please contact us to book a seat. 

Q: Are assessments held locally to me?
A: All Associate and Fellowship assessments are held at RPS House, Bristol. We hold a couple of Licentiate assessments each year within our regions, but all other assessments are also held at RPS House, Bristol. Assessment dates can be found on the following pages:

Q: Can I bring spare images to the assessment?
Please do not bring any other images to an assessment, all you need is; 10 for LRPS, 15 for ARPS & 20/21 for FRPS. 

Q: Do I need to attend the assessment?
A: You don’t need to attend the assessment. However, we recommend attending as you will see other submissions, hear what happens and hear the panel member’s comments.

Q: Can I submit more than one portfolio?
No, you can submit only one submission per assessment. However, you can submit to other genres.

Questions about Advisory days

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Q: What are Advisory days?
A: We offer a number of advisory days throughout the year, across the UK. With these days we will assist anyone who is working towards a distinction. Advisory days are an opportunity for any potential applicant to receive advice regarding their proposed body of work.

Q: I don’t live in the UK and can’t attend an advisory day. What can I do?
A: We host a number of overseas advisory days where the applicant receives video feedback. To check availability, please contact Andy Moore