What I Learnt about the LRPS at a Distinction Advisory Day

15 September 2018

Region: Southern

From a young age I watched my father, Ian Murray ARPS, diligently working towards Distinctions, but to be honest I never fully understood just how much work was involved until I attended a Distinction Advisory Day.

So, what exactly is a Distinction Advisory Day? It’s an opportunity for those wishing to submit LRPS or ARPS panels to seek feedback from qualified RPS Assessors prior to making a formal application. The feedback allows for tweaking of the panel and a greater chance of success.

But it’s also an opportunity for those like me, at the early stages of preparing an LRPS panel, to attend as a spectator and soak up all the invaluable feedback imparted to the panelists – a fast track to becoming distinction savvy.

I thought it would be helpful to share what I learned as a spectator at the Chichester Advisory Day, focusing on LRPS panels.

First and foremost, as a panelist it’s important to read the Distinction Guidelines prior to attending – it’s the assessor's job to be honest in order to help, so be prepared. Some of the guidelines are fairly obvious, such as photos should be in focus and framed correctly, but others are far subtler.

The LRPS is about photographic competence and not the photographer’s individual style - photos should be technically good and show a clear understanding of composition, correct use of exposure, focal length, shutter speed and depth of field.

The standard needs to be consistent across the panel – there’s no room for even one weak image.

Watch out for simple errors – this includes sloping horizons, excessive colour grading, sharpening or saturation, the focus not being on the main subject or cropping too much so the image pixelates.

The panel should demonstrate variety – this does not mean including every type of photography genre (such as a random abstract image). 

Variety refers to demonstrating an understanding of different techniques such as varied subject matter and lighting conditions, use of different depths of field, focal lengths, small and large subjects and action shots mixed with portraits. 

Editing and printing skills are as important as the images (unless applying for Images for Screen) – this is a huge subject I won’t go into now. To learn how to successfully edit photos for printing, it’s worthwhile signing up one of our “Camera to Print” workshops. 

Finally, the layout of the panel should be visually pleasing and balanced - the panel needs to ‘hang together' meaning it should be carefully sequenced with consideration given to matching colours and tones, where images are placed (left, right, central), the mixed use of landscape and portrait or colour and monochrome. Pairs work well.

In summary, an LRPS panel should demonstrate the ability to put together a body of work with a good visual layout.

I left the Chichester Advisory Day fully armed with an understanding of what is required, that I simply could not have found anywhere else. I am also now feeling more confident about my LRPS submission.  

Whether you have a panel ready or you are considering submitting a panel, I would really recommend attending an Advisory Day.

By Jana Murray

Image of Ian Murray ARPS © Jana Murray