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Parkwood CC can help you gain a Photographic Award!

Kev Bell LRPS
If you're reading this you may just want to find out a little more about Photographic Awards and Distinctions, but hopefully you have already made up your mind and want to know what the next step is towards gaining a photographic qualification. Either way please chat to Kev Bell on a club night.

What's covered here:

  • A few reasons for wanting to work towards a Photographic Award.
  • Some ideas on how an awards group could be run at Parkwood CC.
  • A few advantages of working towards an award through Parkwood Camera Club rather than going it alone.
  • The advantages of PAGB* awards and why this should be the main award we, as members of Parkwood Camera Club, should be applying for.
  • Some PAGB entry requirements you should be aware of.
  • A few other, non PAGB Awards, you could apply for.
* PAGB stands for the "Photographic Association of Great Britain" - Parkwood CC is affiliated to it via the Kent County Photographic Association (KCPA).

Reasons for wanting to apply for a Photographic Award:

Most artists, including photographers, want others to appreciate and admire their work and most would like the standard of their work to improve to reflect the time and effort put in. For many professionals this is achieved by expensive training and qualifications (and experience of course). Their success can be measured by the number of sales and/or commissions (this would also rely on networking, marketing and exhibiting).

These methods aren’t an option for most amateur photographers but he or she could join a camera club where they can share knowledge and experience. They can enter their work into club competitions and exhibitions to gauge how they are improving and find a measure of their success. However, photographic awards or distinctions are often overlooked as a good way of improving, and to gain recognition.
There is no doubt that the requirements to achieve an award is demanding but don’t let that put you off, there is help available from our club and I’m sure you will learn a great deal even if you aren’t successful on your first attempt - if you persevere and put the time and effort in, you will eventually succeed.

Ideas on how an awards group could be run at Parkwood CC:

It’s very early days yet regarding ideas on how Parkwood’s Awards Group could be formed and how it could be run - so I’m open to suggestions from you. At the moment I envisage bimonthly meetings/workshops (location to be determined) on a Wednesday evening (perhaps). Alternate Tuesday evenings in Parkwood hall might be an option, but at the moment I have a commitment on Tuesdays.
The content of the workshops will be largely up to you but initially there could be talks to explain the process of applying for PAGB awards. Moving on from there I hope to be able to put together some informal workshop type talks on how to make a good image, starting from the capture stage though to processing in Photoshop and then printing and presentation. Previous workshops I have been involved with used some of their time helping each other put a selection of images together and I see this as an important part of the awards submission process. So, in our group this will probably involve receiving constructive criticism from others - hopefully you will receive some useful comments which you can either take on board or ignore, final decisions will of course be yours.
Advantages of aiming for an award through Parkwood Camera Club:
  • You will have the support and encouragement from other members in the group, and particularly this support should encourage you not to give up if you’re unsuccessful first time.
  • Hopefully you will be able to learn from other members in the group.
  • Even if you are unsuccessful on your first attempt you should learn to be self critical of your work which will without doubt improve your photography.
  • You will learn how to avoid the common mistakes that judges home in on and mark down on.
  • Not confirmed or discussed yet, but it is hoped that we, together with the club/committee, will be able to arrange for an experienced external speaker to attend one or two of our awards workshop sessions. The main idea of this would be to gauge if our standard is good enough and therefore increase our chances of success. Another possible option to achieve this is if there is an event organised by the PAGB or by another club that we can travel to. Alternatively, if our committee agrees to it, it might be possible to arrange for someone from the PAGB awards committee to come to Parkwood. To make this affordable we could invite other clubs to attend and share costs. These events usually involve a number of individuals having a selection of images printed (10 plus a few spares if going for a CPAGB) so that the speaker can make recommendation on improvement or simply state if they are good enough or not.
  • Costs can be shared when delivering prints for adjudication.
  • If you submit images for a PAGB award you will have the benefit of a team of very experience judges scoring your images (this is much more reliable than having just one judge score your image who may be biased to a particular style of photography.

A few things you should be aware of regarding applying for a PAGB award:
The PAGB have a few rules for award applications, but please don’t let that put you off. For a CPAGB you need have been an active member of a camera club for two years before making an application ("active" meaning you have entered club competitions). BUT DON’T LET THIS STOP YOU from making a start now at working towards an award. A lot of our members will have at least a year’s previous membership so that gives them just a year to prepare for their application, and for those who have just joined the club, they have the luxury of two years to prepare. There is also a very long waiting list so we may be able to make early applications for those with say 18 months membership if there is a 6 month waiting list.

There is an entry fee of 60 for a CPAGB but the good news is this a one off fee and if successful you will hold the qualification for life which entitles you to use the post-nominal initials "CPAGB"

The PAGB say that the photographic standard for being successful for a CPAGB is "Good Club Photography". This statement is a bit subjective seeing as the standard of clubs varies throughout the UK, but I consider the standard at Parkwood CC to be at least average if not above average. So if you are doing reasonably well in our competitions, and with the help and experience you will pick up for the Awards Workshops, you will stand a very good chance of gaining an award.

Other Awards/Distinctions you could go for:

Please don’t think that Parkwood CC will only support you if you are going for PAGB awards (we are affiliated to them so I just see PAGB awards as the natural choice for us as camera club members).

Parkwood CC can still help you work towards your chosen award if you are a member of another photographic society, but you will be expected to make your own submission to your Society.
NB annual fees of anything up to and sometimes more than 100 usually apply if you wish to retain your award with many of the Photographic Societies. Remember, PAGB awards are for life and do not require an annual fee, even if you drop out of camera club membership you will still retain the award.

Some amateur photographers prefer to apply for awards from the
Royal Photographic Society (RPS). I can help you with this if you are interested.
Other organisations (more for professions) that have award schemes are:
The British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP)
The Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers (SWPP)
The Society of International Sport & Leisure Photographers (SISLP)
The Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers (SINWP)
The Society of International Fashion and Glamour Photographers (SIFGP)
the list goes on …

Closing Comments:

I do hope you will want to take part in our Awards Workshops, where I’m sure we will all learn something from each other. Don’t think that by taking part in the workshop sessions you are obliged to apply for an Award - you are more than welcome to take part if you think you will be able to learn something OR if you think you can contribute something.

I wish you every success if you have made up your mind to go for an award!

Looking forward to hearing from you - in the meantime, if you are on facebook,  have a look at

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