Features and benefits of being a member of BPS

Our Venue is Avoncroft Arts Society Hall. 

(see “Find Us” under the Information header)

Large warm hall with good audio/visual equipment for our weekly Tuesday meetings and other events.

Winter Season’s Programme

40 Weekly meetings September through to May 

This season outside guest speakers will give talks and demonstrations passing on interesting and useful information on varied topics.

On certain weeks, judging of the regular competitions takes place. The thoughts of the judges can be enlightening.

There are also local inter-society/club contests where independent judges decide the winners.

During the winter programme we hold about 5 Studio Sessions. These may include a model for studio portraiture, a still life session or a studio session with models identified from members on the night! Often, a parallel critique group may be run to discuss member’s resultant prints.

Summer Season’s Programme

This comprises a programme of informal weekly Tuesday Evenings out and about in the area.

We have a mixture of planned walks, visit to area of interest e.g. sailing club, nature reserve etc. Also an annual evening (out of hours) visit to Avoncroft Museum of Buildings with a model arranged. Recent models include a rocker on his Harley Davidson bike and a Samurai warrior! All summer programme activities encourage photography and it’s a good environment for beginners to learn from more experienced members. It’s a chance to take in some urban or rural landscapes. We usually have a good walk and finish at a pub for a drink and chat.

In addition, there are meals out organised and an annual day trip on a summer Sunday.

It all culminates with our Open Evening at the end of August.

Beginners/Novice classes – 10 fortnightly sessions
Free of charge for members from 18:45 to 19:45 on Tuesday evenings 

Classes begin at the start of the Winter season. They enable beginners to build their camera skills.

The learning element begins in September with a ten session Beginners foundation course principally for those wishing to know more about their cameras and photographic possibilities. This foundation course consists of the features and benefits of different types of cameras and the photographic principles they use and how and why the camera setting change when it is taken off automatic.

Other topics covered are the general rules of good composition, the accessories that are essential and those that are nice to have for more creative photography and lighting. The introduction to digital imaging and the how to turn an ordinary photo into a WOW picture using easy and freely available software, this really breaks down the technology barriers. This is an ideal way to learn basic photography skills in a relaxed and informal environment and have a bit of fun at the same time.

Intermediate/Improvers classes – small fee for non-members

Following on from the foundation course is a continuous programme of modules covering various topics from improving depth of focus in close up photography including focus stacking techniques, high dynamic range, low light photography, competition trends, qualifications etc. and to the use of more sophisticated software. These module subjects are flexible and in the main are as requested by the members/participants.

The whole ethos of these classes is that all training is free to members of the Society.

Specialist ‘hands on’ Groups

These groups hold events which are popular with members who gain experience and ‘one to one’ contact with other members. Often the photographs taken during these events become entries for competitions or galleries.

The Practical Group is led by Richard Chapman. They meet all year round at various venues to gain a wide experience. It is open to all members who want a more social dimension to their photography. Working on the principal that two heads are better than one, it aims to encourage co-operation in the pursuit of better pictures. Sharing ideas and expertise is the hallmark of the group and members of all abilities contribute suggestions and identify possible subjects while “on location”. Sharing of equipment is also encouraged.

We meet every month, usually somewhere local and if possible, free of charge. Over the last year we have had successful visits to the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter, the new Library of Birmingham, Chaddesley Woods at bluebell time and have had an indoor portrait session. Most recently a group of us were laid in Belbroughton churchyard (!) where there has been a magnificent crop of fungi; over a dozen different varieties. There is usually opportunity to get feedback on the images made, either on the Practical Group Flickr site or over a cup of coffee at someone’s house. We generate good pictures and friendships.

The Friday Studio Group is led by Colin Close. This is organised about every 6-8 weeks and is usually limited to a manageable number of members each time. Members are drawn from a short list of those who have expressed a desire to attend. We organise the hire of a model (male or female) and sometimes a makeup artist and also members bring lights and props to supplement the Society’s equipment. We have an excellent range of studio lighting both flash and modern continuous lights with a range of professional backgrounds.

There are costs involved which the attending members are asked to cover. Typically this is up to £20-25 each.


The Society runs a Nature Group. The aim is to help others with the art of nature photography.

We will go out over the year and you can get advice on how to get the best from your camera, over the Winter. We go to the Butterfly Farm where you can get up close to butterflies and hone your skills. This will be macro work but non macro lenses will work as well.

Due to the work patterns of members most weekdays are not suitable but for retired members Fridays seem a good option. Other options are Saturdays and Sunday mornings.

Regular competitions

There are regular monthly competitions for prints and projected images. For more information see our web site Competition Rules page under the Information header.

Help and assistance

Friendly help is at hand. Our membership includes many very experienced photographers who are always happy to talk and give advice. You can discuss matters at the weekly meetings or via the Society group email.

Member’s Critique and advice email facility

We run a weekly email Critique Group. It consists of a group of members who, on a rota basis, submit an image to the group. Other members of the group can then comment on the image saying how they might have worked on it or not, whether it might be a competition entry and how the image might have been improved at the taking stage or post production. No image is damned outright but constructive comments are given.


There are technically two Flickr sites for the benefit of BPS Members.

The first Flickr group is active and displays images taken on Practical Group outings. Access is by invitation. If you participate in a PG excursion, you will be invited to join and upload selected images taken on the day.

The second is open to all to contribute any images they wish. It has not been much used of late but a revival is possible.

As with other Flickr sites, viewers can add comment.

Affiliation with other societies

Bromsgrove Photographic Society is affiliated to the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain through membership of the Midland Counties Photographic Federation.

The Photographic Alliance of Great Britain (PAGB)

Provides benefits to (or involving) federations, such as competitions and other events, and PAGB Patronage for national exhibitions and events.

PAGB also provides benefits for the clubs, for example competitions, public liability insurance, recorded lectures, and information about lecturers and judges and a further list of judges approved by the PAGB for inter-Federation events and exhibitions.

In addition, PAGB provides benefits for individual photographers, (as long as they belong to affiliated clubs), especially by offering its sought-after awards. Many UK photographers have one or more of the PAGB-awarded letters after their names: CPAGB, DPAGB, MPAGB, APAGB, and/or HonPAGB. PAGB also provides the route by which photographers can participate in FIAP and gain its awards.


Awards are of two sorts: for photographic merit, and for outstanding services to the PAGB and/or its federations and their clubs. (Awards for photographic merit require the applicant to have supported their federation, or been an active club member, depending on the federation’s own rules, for a given number of years).

CPAGB – Credit PAGB:

The first of three awards for photographic merit. It is offered for what is generally interpreted as ‘good class’ photography. Such photographs would be of a standard whereby they might be expected to represent the club at inter-club and Federation events at least. Applicants must have supported their federations for 2 years out the last 10 and must submit 10 photographs to an adjudication panels which normally convenes twice a year. Applicants must achieve a set total of points from their images from the 6 judges.

DPAGB – Distinction PAGB:

This is the second highest distinction. It may be interpreted as requiring 15 photographs which are of open exhibition standard and again applicants have to achieve a set total of points from the panel of 6 judges. Applicants do not need to hold CPAGB to apply for this award but they must have supported their federation for at least 3 years from the last 10.

MPAGB – Master PAGB:

This is the highest award for photographic merit granted by PAGB. It requires the highest standard of amateur photography with each of 20 photographs likely to achieve consistent success at International Exhibition level and also likely to win at least an occasional award. Requires applicants to have supported their federation for at least 5 years from the last 10 and it cannot be applied for until 11 months has elapsed from achieving DPAGB.

APAGB – Associate of PAGB:

This is granted to members of affiliated Federations and their clubs for prolonged outstanding service to the PAGB, their federation or club. Generally at least 10 years Federation service is a minimum or at least around 30 years or more at Club level is required. This service award is the most well known and any club member in good standing can nominate a fellow member for this award.

J.S. Lancaster Medal (HonPAGB) – Honorary Member of PAGB:

In a small number of cases the service given by someone is so outstanding that it merits a further award than the APAGB. To give recognition to this exceptional service PAGB introduced the J.S. Lancaster Medal. There are no strict criteria other than “Exceptional Service to the PAGB”.

Competitions and events

The PAGB organises a number of national events and services. These include Competitions where club photographers make individual decisions to enter, yet do so via their clubs on behalf of their federations:

Annual Inter-Federation Print Competitions and Touring Exhibition

Annual Inter-Federation PDI Competition and Touring Exhibition

Inter-club competitions where the entrants are two clubs chosen by each federation to represent them (plus the previous year’s finalists):

Annual Inter-Club PDI Championship, held at Warwick University

Annual Inter-Club Print Championship, from 2014 to be held at Edge Hill University at Ormskirk, (previously held at Deeside College at Connah’s Quay)

An inter-club PDI competition (with 3 sections) where clubs make individual decisions to enter:

The Great British Cup (Open)

The Great British Cup (Small Clubs)

The Great British Cup (Nature)

The National Audio Visual Championship
A bi-annual Slide Sound sequences weekend run in conjunction with the Royal Photographic Society