Getting letters

21 Jun 2014 | Categories: blog | Posted by: Peti Morgan

This year I was made a Licentiate, by the Photographic Society of New Zealand (LPSNZ). I’m really, really proud of this – it’s made my year. I received the Licentiateship at an Honours Banquet in Blenheim on 27 April, and my printed honours portfolio, along with the other successful honourees’ portfolios, were displayed alongside at the PSNZ Canon NATEX exhibition.

Here are the images that I included in my successful “L set”:

And displayed alongside the National Exhibition (NATEX) in Blenheim this year:

On display at NATEX

For those of you interested in the process – perhaps you might want to try for your own – I’ve written a little about my experience.

The process

Late last year a fellow photographer who had recently been successful in gaining his LPSNZ, suggested that I try for mine in 2014. Until that point I hadn’t thought too much about it, but flattered that he thought my skills were worthy, I took a read through the submission guidelines.

There are three levels of photographic honours that can be applied for my members of the society: licentiateship; associateship and fellowship. The Licentiateship is the first level, and according to the guidelines: a Licentiateship is awarded for “proficiency of a high order in practical photography.” This means the applicant must demonstrate sound basic technical ability, along with good compositional skill, and awareness of lighting. Proficiency implies skill with the camera and in processing and presenting images. 

I decided to put a submission in because I feel confident I have all of those skills.  But one thing I was uncertain of, which is apparently critical to your success, is the ability to create a portfolio that ‘hangs together’.

As you’ll probably know, at this current point in time I have not exhibited a portfolio of my work yet. So I’ve not had the opportunity to go through this process.  When I do exhibit, I imagine I will choose a theme. I could imagine that putting a themed portfolio together would be easier, because the theme ties each image together. But what I had to prepare was a portfolio that demonstrated my photographic ability – this meant including a selection of genres (street, landscape, portrait, urban) and trying to make these images work together. I didn’t have a themed set that could represent this.

So to begin I put my set of 10 images together digitally and then sought advice from some experienced and respected photographers, and a photographer who had recently received her own Licentiateship.  It’s suggested that you only seek one or two opinions or you may become confused. I ended up with four generous reviewers and learned a little from each of them. In the end though, they all echoed – it’s your final choice that matters.

Once I had a fairly good idea of the images that would be included in my submission, I printed and matted them. The process up until this point had taken a couple of months. I now had to make a final decision about how I would like the portfolio to be shown to the honours judges. I already had a good feeling of how I wanted them to be displayed, but I needed to see the printed images in front of me as a portfolio, to assess if my layout decisions were right. I just laid them all out on the floor in the order I wanted.  I made a few small changes and then packaged the set up carefully, labelling each as required, then couriered them off to the Honours Committee.


Then a few months later I received notice of my success, and attended the honours banquet in Blenheim to receive my Licentiateship.

Here’s proud me with the other Licentiateship recipients.

LPSNZ recipients 2014

Licentiate certificate

What if I wasn’t successful?

If I wasn’t successful this year I would have been able to speak directly with the Honours Board and ask for feedback. I can imagine this would have been very useful, and help with finding success the following year.

Your honours

Are you thinking of ‘going for your letters’ next year? If you are, good luck, and I can just recommend reading the guidelines very carefully, and seeking advice from one or two others who have either achieved their letters, or you look up to as a photographer.

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1 Comment

  1. Erin Bourke
    June 21, 2014

    Wow, congratulations, and well done. Wonderful news.

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