The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB) run an awards scheme called the Awards for Photographic Merit. The Awards for Photographic Merit (APM) are open to all members of Clubs affiliated to the PAGB through their Federations and are at three levels, CPAGB, DPAGB, MPAGB. The awards are held for life without any annual fee and holders are entitled to use the designated letters after their name.
All the information you need about the awards themselves is on the PAGB web site at PAGB AWARDS FOR PHOTOGRAPHIC MERIT INFORMATION and there are the downloadable leaflets there, which we recommend that you read. A summary of the levels is below.
The standard of the CPAGB is defined as “good club standard” but…the standard is higher than many candidates expect and it really means, in my opinion, “the standard of the better members in a strong club”. Normally it is best to start with the CPAGB and then progress to the DPAGB even if you think you are already above C level. Better to pass a C with great marks than to just fail the D and have to start again!
It’s a big step up to the DPAGB from the CPAGB. Many candidates think they are ready for the D immediately after they pass the C, but it is rarely the case. The DPAGB is current exhibition standard. The advice, if you are going for this level, is to acquire a track record of national salon acceptances for your work and remember that fashions change, so your track record should be recent when you apply for the D.
The MPAGB is the highest level of amateur club photography. For this level, your work should be winning awards at national salon level.
Pre-Qualification, Applying for a Mentor and Applying to the PAGB for an Adjudication
- All applicants must qualify in accordance with their Federation’s criteria as an active member of an affiliated club. This support must have been given for a min of
2 years for CPAGB
3 years for DPAGB
5 years for MPAGB from current active photographers.
A retrospective period of 10 years may be considered.
Applicants for MPAGB must have held DPAGB for at least 11 months on date of application.
- You can apply to our Awards Officer – Christine Widdall, firstname.lastname@example.org – for a pre-qualification certificate, which you then send to the PAGB when you are ready to apply. Christine needs to be sure that you have pre-qualified before you can apply. This can sometimes be checked from federation records or your club secretary can provide information by email.
- Before sending in your form, please ensure that you are fully ready for the awards by going through our mentoring scheme and attending a mentoring seminar. In 2014, mentoring our candidates allowed us to achieve a 93% pass rate across the three levels, C, D and M. A correspondingly high pass ratre in 2015 continued our success. In April 2016, mentored candidates again had a 93% pass rate. The typical pass rate without mentoring could be around 60-65% for C, 40-45% for D and 20% for M. Your mentor can help you to decide if you are ready to apply, so don’t apply until your work is ready. If you back out after making an application you may/will lose all of your fee.
The Mentoring Scheme
Over 97% of L&CPU applicants that use the mentoring scheme pass their accreditation.
The present mentors are Christine Widdall, Adrian Lines, David Butler, Gwen Charnock, Phil Charnock, Bob Dennis, Mike Lawrence, Terry Donnelly and Jane Lines. Christine runs the scheme and you need to apply to her for a mentor.
What you can expect from a mentor:
- We will ask you to send us your best images, a maximum of 30 images at 1400×1050 pixels. (If you are entering with prints, we would like to have a meeting to see your prints at some stage.) Please include a scoresheet so the mentor doesn’t have to write out all your titles. Make this readable by “any computer” and not just those running the latest version of Word! e.g. Word 2000 compatible document or spreadsheet, document in rtf or txt format.
- Fair appraisal at the standard that you are aiming for with advice on its suitability for the award…with brief comments.
- Some indication, in the mentor’s opinion, if the work is at the standard, above or below (though this will not guarantee you a pass!). Some advice about improving your work may be given if appropriate.
- At the C level you will work with one mentor. At D and above a second mentor may be asked to become involved, but you will then revert to your main mentor. If you do not get on with your mentor or wish for a change, please consult with the Mentoring Secretary (currently Chris Widdall).
- Your mentor’s advice, if taken, should help you to maximise your chance of passing, but remember that not all candidates will pass. In the L&CPU, we have a very high rate of success since we started up this system and it is the envy of other Federations.
- Mentors will accept follow up images so long as you do not swamp them with all your new work!
What you cannot expect from your mentor:
- To have your mentor at your beck and call on a regular basis. Remember, your mentor may have a dozen more candidates…and also has a life! So, please respect your mentor’s time and only send in images when you truly think they are ready, not on an iterative basis, expecting daily comments on how you are doing!
- You cannot expect your mentor to be your teacher. We do not have time for this and expect that you will have, or be able to acquire, the necessary skills appropriate to the level that you are attempting. Take time to learn the skills that you need and spend time working on your images on your own and entering them into competitions to see how they fare.
- We do not look through your Facebook or Flickr accounts to find suitable images…this is too time consuming…we expect that you have already tried out your best work before judges at your club and in external competitions/exhibitions.
- You cannot expect your mentor to chase you up! It is up to you to make the first approach and you will be given contact details. Your mentor cannot read your mind, so if you are backing out or delaying applying, please send a note to your mentor to explain this.
- You cannot expect your mentor to necessarily take you on again for the next level. For example, for nature sets or creative sets, any mentor will deal with a C application but we try to match you up with a specialist at D and above. Not all mentors deal with the higher levels, so you may have to change. Please apply again when you need a mentor for the next level.
From time to time we will run a mentoring seminar for the PAGB Awards, when we will project images from recently successful panels and then run a mock adjudication, with six of our mentors as adjudicators. This will be very valuable if you can attend. However, it is important that the “mock” is only seen as a guide and your marks will not be duplicated exactly on the day, but it will show you which is your strongest work and how you rank with other candidates. We aim to run one seminar each year if possible, usually in the autumn.
Mentoring Outside the Official Scheme
Some people would prefer to be helped by a friend or colleague. There is absolutely no doubt that mentoring outside the official scheme can also be beneficial. However, if you prefer to be helped by a friend or colleague, please choose carefully and ensure that the person who is helping you is truly up to speed with all the requirements of the PAGB and also has attended adjudications, as mentoring is very different from just being a club judge or a good photographer (or a good mate!).
Examples of successful submissions
Here are some individual submissions which you can view to assess standards, except in image quality which can only be seen in the original prints or full 1400×1050 PDIs.
From Issue 67 onwards the PAGB e-Newsletter started to feature APM submissions. All the newsletters are available on the PAGB page.