I was delighted to be awarded the Fellowship of the BPE (British Photographic Exhibitions) at the end of May 2015. This UK organisation runs an award scheme through its member National Exhibitions. The scheme rewards entrants who are successful in having their work accepted for exhibition and are awarded various prizes and medals. Exhibition acceptances are aggregated until, with 300 acceptances, a BPE5 (5 crown award) can be achieved.

Associateship

Once the 5 Crown award has been achieved, a candidate may go on to work for the Associateship. This requires

  • A further 100 acceptances in member exhibitions  and
  • Twenty awards using at least ten different pieces of work.

Fellowship

On achieving the Associateship, a candidate may continue to accrue acceptances in member exhibitions and further awards. He/she may apply for a Fellowship once a minimum of:

  • A further 100 acceptances in member exhibitions  and
  • Thirty new awards since gaining the ABPE, using at least fifteen different pieces of work which have not been previously awarded.

The Hard Bit

It is achieving the awards which is the most difficult part of the process and the fact that, only at the various stages do the awards start to be counted. For example, in working to my 5 Crown award, I had also chalked up 69 awards. For the Associateship, I was required to achieve another 20 new awards with 10 new pieces of work. With the Associateship out of the way, I needed another 30 new awards with 15 previously new pieces of work. In fact, in the whole process, my total tally was 667 acceptances and 123 awards.

Choosing which photographic distinctions to pursue

It is difficult to compare the distinctions within one country or organisation with those of another…they are all so very different…however, I do feel that this is one of my highest achievements to date. Getting work accepted in BPE nationals is regarded as more difficult than achieving acceptances in the internationals. Why should this be? Well, there are many more internationals around the world than there are UK national exhibitions, so many more opportunities to acquire acceptances…and the internationals on the whole accept a significant larger proportion of entries. So, with the same number of pieces of work, it is possible to aggregate a great many more international acceptances than national ones.

For me, the BPE Exhibitions presented the challenge that I was looking for in the last couple of years…but I would not wish to criticise any of the other distinctions routes that exist throughout the UK and the world – they all give the opportunity for photographers to stretch themselves and achieve their greatest potential and that is what it is all about. For those who choose not to pursue letters after your name – well, you will miss some fun but also save a lot of entry fees!!!

 Some of the Award Winners during the process

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