Competitions, Distinctions and Awards

Reasons why to enter competitions :

  •  A photo contest gives you direction
  • Pushes you out of your comfort zone
  • Focuses your mind on being perfect
  • Is a great way to gain exposure
  • There’s the potential to win a great prize!
  • See other peoples entries, and be inspired
  • Doing well validates you
  • Gain feedback

Our own “Photographer Of The Year” competition is a great place to start but if you are looking for another challenge here is a few options and some information about them.

The Irish Photographic Federation Distinctions.

The Irish Photographic Federation Distinctions are an award where individual photographers present their work before the distinctions judges. The judges assess whether the applicant should be awarded the relevant distinction applied for.

Levels of Distinction
The Irish Photographic Federation shall award distinctions to recognise the attainment of different levels of expertise and artistic achievement in photography.

Licentiate: This is the initial distinction level and is recognised, by Licentiate, Irish Photographic Federation (LIPF)

Associate: This is the next distinction level and is recognised by, Associate, Irish Photographic Federation (AIPF)

Fellow: This is the supreme distinction level and is recognised by Fellow, Irish Photographic Federation (FIPF)

The distinctions LIPF, AIPF and FIPF are mutually exclusive. Only the most senior distinction earned should be used.

Distinctions sittings are currently held four times a year:

  • March (no fellowships at this sitting)
  • May (all levels)
  • September (all levels)
  • November (all levels)

There is a fixed quota of the number of panels assessed at each session on a strictly first come, first served basis.

The application fees are as follows for all new applications:

Members of IPF Affiliated Clubs:

  • Licentiateship: €60
  • Associateship: €80
  • Fellowship: €100

Licentiateship (LIPF)

The Licentiate is the first of these levels and requires a panel of ten images to be presented. The panel may be general subject matter or in a specialist category and must demonstrate competence in key areas of camera skill as outlined in the Licentiateship Handbook.

Applicants put forward a panel of ten prints, which are assessed by a panel of experienced photographers.  Successful applicants are entitled to use the letters LIPF after their name.

How to apply:

  1. Please download a copy of the ‘Handbook for IPF Licentiate Applicants’ below and read carefully. It is full of information about the licentiateship distinction including how it is assessed, how to prepare, what happens on the day etc.
  2. Fill out the online application form and submit your application
    • If you are paying with Paypal, please do so when prompted by application form
    • If you are paying by cheque, please mark form accordingly and post cheque to the address indicated in the confirmation email

The application fee is €60 for a member of an IPF Affiliated Club, and €80 for those who are not members of IPF Affiliated Clubs.

All applicants must complete the online form to apply for a distinction. 

Distinction annual fees

Distinction annual fees are due on the 1st of January each year regardless of the date of your previous renewal. If you choose not to renew, you no longer have permission to use the letters associated with our distinction after your name. 

  • Annual Fee – Standard: €25
  • Annual Fee – Seniors (65 and over): €15

The Irish Photographic Federation have a Lifetime Fee option avaiable for just €400

Your annual fee helps the Irish Photographic Federation to continue to expand and to provide a great outlet for photographers to learn, grow, compete and enjoy socialising with other photographers at events throughout the year.

IPF National Shield 

The National Shield shall be competed for in each of the following categories: Monochrome Digital and Colour Digital. The National Shield is awarded to the club with the highest aggregate total score across the two categories. 

To compete, a club must submit eight images in each of the categories in which they wish to compete. Up to two substitute images may be submitted which may be substituted in case of a dispute relating to an image on a panel. Of the eight images submitted in each category, the following shall apply.

Only one image per photographer per panel is allowed. Each participating club may enter up to two images per panel from advanced photographers provided that the only criteria that determine them to be advanced is that they hold a LIPF distinction from the IPF or similar distinction from another recognized photographic organization. Photographers with any of the following are not eligible.

  •  Any person who has received an IPF Associateship or Fellowship distinction or similar from FIAP, the PSA, or any other similar distinctions from any other photographic organization.
  • Any person who has been awarded more than one IPF medal in IPF National Competitions. 
  • Any person who had an image that was chosen to represent the IPF in international competitions.
  • Any person who has received acceptances with five or more image titles, or any award including a ribbon, at FIAP, and/or PSA recognized salons.
  • Any person whose club considers him or her to be of advanced standing in any discipline of photography.
  • Any person who holds a diploma or degree in photography from any recognized educational institution in Ireland or elsewhere.

(Information from

Photo Salons

What is a salon?

Well, in short, it is a combination of a photographic exhibition and a competition. There are many, many salons and exhibitions worldwide and entering them can bring awards and distinctions. While there are many commercial competitions with tangible prizes that you may feel you might like to compete in to win things, these are often initiated by companies, to make a profit from and collect images for commercial gain. Salons however, are usually patronised by photographic bodies, and tend to be more for prestige and recognition rather than for prize gains.

These national and international photographic bodies include:

 FIAP – Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique

PSA – Photographic Society of America

GPU – Global Photographic Union

PAGB – Photographic Alliance of Great Britain

BPE – British Photographic Exhibitions

WE will take a closer look at FIAP below :

The International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP) is the UNESCO recognized body representing photographic art worldwide and to which the Irish Photographic Federation (IPF) is affiliated as a full member, representing Ireland.   Among its many activities FIAP awards internationally recognized distinctions that are already held by a number of members of IPF member clubs. Further specific information regarding FIAP Distinctions can be viewed on the IPF website, These Distinctions are gained through a process of points accumulation based on image acceptance at specified international competitions, commonly referred to as “Salons”, that have formally been granted FIAP Patronage.  

The AFIAP and EFIAP distinctions are gained through acceptances and awards at international competitions (salons). Further advancement can also be gained through the EFIAP levels. These EFIAP Levels are the EFIAP Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond 1, Diamond 2 and Diamond 3. A photographer gains each in turn starting with Bronze and completing with Diamond 3. The Bronze may be applied for after holding the EFIAP distinction for a period of one year. 

A photographer must hold the previous level for at least one year before applying for the next level. 

The application fee for each level of distinction (with exception of MFIAP) is €50. There is also a €5 administration charge by the IPF to cover costs. See for more information about the application process. 

In addition you must also apply for a FIAP Life Card before applying for the AFIAP distinction. You will receive a FIAP Profile number (FP Number) and the card will also have a number. Keep these as you will need them throughout your FIAP journey. 

There is more information available at and