The Royal Photographic Society has set out on an extensive initiative, titled “Photography for Everyone” with the goal of making the photography industry more inclusive and accessible for all through a number of projects.
The Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain, more commonly known as the Royal Photographic Society (RPS), was founded in 1853 and is one of the world’s oldest photographic societies. It is supported in its efforts by its patron, Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge.
It is a membership-based community of thousands of people who engage in photography and “believe in its importance as an artistic, scientific, and expressive medium.” The funding from membership goes towards its regular Journal, website, education resources, and various competitions. The organization also receives gifted funds which allow it to provide bursaries and support for specific projects.
The RPS believes that “photography, and the imaging science that underpins the medium, can advance our social, cultural, and economic well-being, and our health,” which is why it has created a five-year strategic plan to allow more people to become involved, using a tagline of “inspire, create, and connect.” The 21 planned programs are also structured under these three pillars.
All of these three pillars have five common aims — inclusion, environmental and social responsibility, member participation, financial sustainability, and profile-raising — to deliver the organization’s future vision for photographers, which is “a world where everyone is inspired, empowered, and educated in the art and science of photography.”
Throughout our 168-year history, the Royal Photographic Society has grown and evolved alongside the practice of photography. This evolution has been driven by the ambitions of our members, by leaps in technology, and by changes in society.
Today, we recognize there are many new challenges and opportunities, and that photography is as important now as it has ever been.
The “inspire” initiative plans to help people access and understand photographic work and share information on subjects of importance, as well as changes in this industry. This will be achieved through exhibitions, the RPS Awards and Journal, a new RPS historic collection, various campaigns, publication and print sales, and also through the new Photographer Laureate, which will award a suitable candidate every two years to take on the role of an ambassador for photography in the UK.
“Create” sets out to provide leadership and resources for photographic education to support the process of creating and understanding. This part of the initiative will be achieved through education programs, awards, a Chartered Photographer scheme, and various activities that encourage people to take part in recording the world around them.
Lastly, “connect” is focused on the promotion of belonging, mentorship, and inclusivity. The RPS already promotes engagement with others through its regional hubs and groups but has also added a “Young photographers” support network for both children and teachers, as well as mentorship opportunities, and multi-media content to educate and engage.
The RPS also plans to expand its support for professional photographers, in partnership with the British Institute of Professional Photography and the Association of Photographers and intends to take a lead on environmental and social issues.
This initiative has been developed as a result of months of research and consultations with people across various organizations, including volunteers, and has been created to give the organization a clear direction for the next five years and beyond.
If you are interested in the initiative, you can read the full 2021 – 2026 RPS strategy guide which outlines each section in detail.
Image credits: Image by Rebecca Faith and used courtesy of the Royal Photographic Society