Qualifications - An Overview

Qualifications within the British Photographic Industry have always been a contentioustopic, and I guess they always will be. Plagued by such questions as "How can youjudge an Art form?"or "What exactly are the rules?", the system can neverbe perfect. And yet, we try to apply simplistic criteria at the base levels that aredesigned to accredit an acceptable degree of competence upon which the general public canrely when engaging the services of a "Qualified"photographer.

All organisations that represent working photographers in the UK have virtuallyidentical structures in their qualifications systems so this outline should prove useful.

Unqualified Members

As the term suggests, these are people within organisations who as yet have notsubmitted their work for appraisal and accreditation. Everybody has to start somewhere nomatter what dizzy heights he or she may achieve later in his or her careers. This groupcontains many skilful photographers and should not be dismissed out of hand simply becausethey have not got around to preparing a qualifications submission. We at the SWPP are keen to encourage all our members to take the first steps on the qualificationsladder but we cannot force them to do so.


The general public tend to regard this, our lowest level of qualification as a"Licensed"photographer and in many ways this is not an unreasonable analogy. Asfar as the SWPP are concerned, we draw our judges for all levels ofqualification from amongst the most skilful practitioners in the World. They are trainedto look at this level for a consistent standard of imaging that a client could reasonablynot take issue with. If you like, a base level of professional competence or in theterminology of Trading Standards departments, "items of merchantable quality".Of course we also look at aesthetics and imagination but at this level they are notcrucial factors.


At this standard, we are viewing images that not only display a high degree oftechnical ability, but also portray imagination and creativity in execution andpresentation. These are important factors that often go hand in hand with higher prices asthis qualification is held by the top 10% of practitioners, who coincidentally are oftenimpressive image makers and astute businessmen.


Our ultimate accolade and is held by the top 1% of the memberships of most of the UK'srepresentative bodies. These select few have achieved the highest professional standardsin imaging, creativity, presentation and behaviour. As with the judging criteria for"Associateship", never bestowed lightly but only after constant submission ofwork to their mentors, rigorous examinations and many years in professional practice.

So, to our members, we encourage you to achieve qualifications that benchmark you andyour work within the photographic industry.

And to the general public, we can confidently say that the SWPP continuallystrives to raise the standards of imaging available to consumers through the provision ofsome of the world's best education and training programmes for professional photographers.

Taking the Credit for you work
Qualification Submission Form
Qualifications available

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