What do these initials mean?

Members may be confused by the proliferation of initials and qualifications they meet.  This page is, we hope, an explanation of some of the most common and guidelines on how to obtain them



Hoylake Photographic Society is affiliated to the Lancashire and Cheshire Photographic Union (L&CPU)

The L&CPU is a regional organisation with a membership of about 100 clubs in the North West area, including Hoylake.  It provides a register of judges and lecturers, which is useful when building the syllabus and arranges a number of functions for photographers.  The L&CPU organises an annual competition for prints and digital images. The regulations change slightly from year to year and work has to be submitted through the Club. Entries are judged separately but there is a club element as marks are totalled and a league table produced. Folios are afterwards produced from the year’s entry and these are available to the syllabus secretary for an evening’s entertainment. We usually see three or four of the folios. There is also an individual L&CPU Annual competition.

PAGB[sta_anchor id=”pagb”]The PAGB (Photographic Alliance of Great Britain) is the National federation  of local groups such as the L&CPU.  It also arranges an annual competition, and the best of the annual L&CPU entry is retained and forwarded for this.  Trophies are awarded to the successful federation.  Images accepted for the PAGB exhibition tour the country, giving everyone the chance to see some of the best of club photography. The PAGB also run competitions for clubs and Hoylake PS usually takes part in these.

To gain PAGB awards, entrants must be members of a PAGB affiliated club, as Hoylake is.

  • Credit (CPAGB) – Standard: Good Club Photography – 10 images – prints or projected images
  • Distinction (DPAGB) –  Standard: Open Exhibition Photography – 15 images – prints or projected images
  • Master (MPAGB) –  Standard: Highest Standard of UK Amateur Photography – 20 images – prints or projected images

Some of our members have PAGB awards, and those members who are interested in applying should contact a member of the Committee.

Full instructions can be found here

rps-logo-newThe Royal Photographic Society is based in the UK, but recognised internationally.  To obtain the RPS levels you must join the society and maintain your membership if you wish to retain the awards.  For each level you have to produce a panel of prints or projected images. The Licentiate, (LRPS), Associate (ARPS) and Fellow (FRPS)  are internationally recognised.  To achieve the RPS levels requires much time and is a costly business.  We have members who have achieved all three levels who can help in the early stages of preparing an entry.  The RPS also arranges local and national meetings for members and non members and have an annual competition.

See Carol Tipping’s successful FRPS panel



If you want to take your photography to a wider population, then you might consider entering some of the many competitions available.  Some in Britain are part of the British Photographic Exhibitions– the BPE- through which you can gain Crown awards. For the BPE Crown awards, you need to have a specific number of images accepted in participating exhibitions.



BPE1 Crown Award – 25 points
BPE2 Crown Award – 50 points
BPE3 Crown Award – 100 points
BPE4 Crown Award – 200 points
BPE5 Crown Award – 300 points

Further acceptances and awards can lead to the ABPE and FBPE awards. As of last year there were only 23 people who had gained the FBPE award, and one is a member of Hoylake PS!


Members may want to enter international competitons. Many international competitions are recognised by one or more of the following – FIAP – Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique, the PSAthe Photographic Society of America or GPU the Global Photographic Union. Find out more about these organisations here

Some of members have  BPE, PSA and FIAP letters to their name and can give advice to anyone wanting to start the process.  Salons can be prints or digital and most entries are  done completely online.  The only disadvantage to entering is the entry fee, which varies enormously. Payment is normally by PayPal.  One good place to start is our own Hoylake International Exhibition – which is free to Hoylake PS members.



FIAP distinctions are based on the number of acceptances in FIAP recognised exhibitions together with some awards.  Full description of requirements can be found here. The two basic levels are:-

AFIAP: Artist FIAP  EFIAP: Excellence FIAP

Then there are distinction levels

EFIAP/b: Excellence FIAP Bronze

EFIAP/s: Excellence FIAP Silver

EFIAP/g: Excellence FIAP Gold

EFIAP/p: Excellence FIAP Platinum

EFIAP/d1: Excellence FIAP Diamond 1

EFIAP/d2: Excellence FIAP Diamond 2

EFIAP/d3: Excellence FIAP Diamond 3

An MFIAP application requires a themed portfolio of 20 prints to the most exacting standards, which will be assessed by FIAP.



GPU Awards.  The GPU first started life as UPI until United Press International threatened legal action so the name was change to Global Photographic Union


GPU’s system for CROWNs is based on points that the photographers collect from acceptances, mentions and awards in international exhibitions of any patronage and year.

GPU Crown 1: 200 pts.
GPU Crown 2: 600 pts.
GPU Crown 3: 2500 pts.
GPU Crown 4: 6000 pts.
GPU Crown 5: 15000 pts.

ACCEPTED photo or portfolio (not GPU’s patronage) = 1 pts.
Honorable Mention or Certificate (not GPU’s patronage) = 2 pts.
Medal or Trophy (not GPU’s patronage) = 4 pts.

Accepted image = 2 pts. ;  HM/ Certificate = 4 pts. ;  Medal/ Trophy = 8 pts

More Information

A different system of GPU TITLES based on stunning photo collections is:

Aphrodite: 2 photos from 5 different categories (out of 10 categories)

Hermes: 5 photos from 5 different categories (out of 10 categories)

Zeus: 10 photos from 5 different categories (out of 10 categories)

More information on GPU titles


[sta_anchor id=”psa”]Acceptances in PSA recognised exhibitions can be counted towards Stars in the 6 different divisions.  Totally the acceptances in these Stars leads to the following Distinctions

Full details of Stars and Distinctions


QPSA – Qualification – 54 acceptances

PPSA – Proficiency – 288 acceptances

EPSA – Excellence – 700 acceptances

MPSA – Master – 1500 acceptances

MPSA2 – Master 2 – 2250 acceptances

GMPSA Grand Master – 3000 acceptances

GMPSA/b Bronze – 5000 acceptances

GMPSA/s Silver – 7000 acceptances

GMPSA/g Gold – 9000 acceptances

GMPSA/p Platinum 11000 acceptances

The above distinctions are based upon acceptances in PSA recognised exhibitions. The PSA has introduced a new distinction based on portfolios of work. Portfolio distinctions are given for a body of work, Print or Digital, that reflects a photographer’s personal style and photographic interest.

BPSA (Bronze)  SPSA (Silver)  GPSA (Gold)

Find out more here

[sta_anchor id=”sequence”]Here is some advice on sequencing panels

Creating a Sequencing Photo Using Photoshop from PSA on Vimeo.