The Royal Photographic Society exists to promote photography and image-making and to support photographers in realising their potential, irrespective of their level of knowledge, equipment or skills. The RPS do organise Photographic Competitions but is more famous for its Distinctions awarded to photographers.
The RPS offers three levels of Distinctions which set recognised standards of achievement throughout the world. Both RPS members and non-members can apply for Distinctions (although non-members will need to join The Royal Photographic Society if they gain a Distinction).
Photographers gaining distinctions must remain paid members of the RPS to continue using the distinction.
We recommend you apply for the LRPS first unless you're an experienced photographer:
LRPS (Licentiateship of The RPS)
Images of a high standard of photographic execution - demanding but achievable for most dedicated photographers. Applicants must show variety in approach and techniques but not necessarily in the subject matter.
Images of exceptional standard and a written Statement of Intent (what you hoped to achieve). This is a significant step up from the LRPS. At this stage, creative ability and personal style (what makes your work unique to you), along with complete control of the technical aspects of photography must be evident. It is at this level that you can first choose to submit your work to a particular specialist category. It is possible to apply for an ARPS without having first achieved an LRPS, but we do not recommend this unless you have considerable experience in photography.
Fellowship submissions are open to Associates of the Society and Fellows of the BIPP. Images must be of an outstanding photographic and creative standard and accompanied by a Statement of Intent. An obvious personal style is expected at this stage. You need to have achieved the ARPS before you can apply for the FRPS.