RPS Awards 2016

19 September 2016

Society news

Top names in Fashion, Film and Publishing receive prestigious RPS Awards.

Young U.S inventor of Oculus Rift, Palmer Luckey, received The Progress Medal – the most prestigious award given by the Royal Photographic Society which recognises important advances in the scientific or technological development of photography or imaging.

The Centenary Award, given in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography, was awarded to German born photographer Thomas Struth who is best known for his 1970s black and white cityscapes of the streets of Düsseldorf and New York. Whilst well-known curator and writer on photography William A. Ewing also received the Outstanding Service to Photography Award which recognises his influential and sustained contributions to the advancement of Photography. The recipients of these three awards also received an Honorary Fellowship of The Society.

Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, photographer and film director David Stewart, award-winning fashion photographers Mert & Marcus and publisher of controversial art books Benedikt Taschen were just some of the other winners of the Royal Photographic Society Awards 2016.

The RPS Awards, established in 1878, are the longest and most prestigious photography awards in the world. They recognise exceptional photographers, scientists, curators, educators as well as those who have given exceptional service to The Royal Photographic Society.

The winners were officially announced at an Awards Ceremony supported by The Macallan and hosted by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT LRPS, in London last night (15 September).

There were four new awards this year; Curatorship, Scientific Imaging, Editorial, Advertising and Fashion and Photographic Publishing; bringing the total to 16 categories that recognise individuals that have made outstanding contributions in a variety of fields.

Michael Pritchard, Director General of the RPS: “Every year The Society’s Awards recognise exceptional photographers and influencers across all areas of imaging art and science. We are delighted to introduce new categories this year, allowing us to acknowledge the outstanding work of individuals in additional fields.”

Commenting on the partnership, Ken Grier, Creative Director of The Macallan, said, "The Royal Photographic Society is a world-renowned institution which shares our unwavering commitment to photographers across the globe.  The world of photography continues to sit at the heart of The Macallan and we strive to celebrate this world through our long standing global initiatives.  The partnership with the Society's annual Awards has gone from strength to strength and we are delighted once again to play our part in recognising such amazing talent and visionaries that have shaped this inspiring and dynamic discipline."

For further information/images/interviews, please contact: Suzanne Trisk on 07710 207164 or suzanne.trisk@rps.org  Follow us on Twitter @The_RPS

2016 Winners: 

1.      The Progress Medal Recognising invention, research or publication which has resulted in an important advance in the scientific or technological development of photography or imaging. This award also carries with it an Honorary Fellowship of The Society. 

Winner: Palmer Luckey –24 year old inventor of head mounted virtual reality device (Oculus Rift) is U.S based. He, along with his co-founders, initially raised $2.4 million on Kickstarter in August of 2012. In March of 2014, Facebook announced the acquisition of Oculus VR for $2.3 billion in stock and cash. 

2.      The Centenary Award This Award is given in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography.  This medal also carries with it an Honorary Fellowship of The Society. 

Winner: Thomas Struth - German born photographer who is best known for his Museum Photographs where he captured anonymous individuals and crowds looking at iconic works of art in the world’s museums, family portraits and 1970s black and white cityscapes of the streets of Düsseldorf and New York.


3.      The Outstanding Service Award This award carries with it an Honorary Fellowship of The Society. It recognises major sustained, outstanding and influential contributions to the advancement of Photography and/or Imaging. 

Winner: William A. Ewing - Well-known curator and writer on photography. His most recent publications are Masterclass: Arnold Newman (Thames and Hudson, 2012), Landmark: The Fields of Landscape Photography, (T&H 2014), Moving Still: Lois Greenfield, (T&H, 2015), and Edward Burtynsky: Essential Elements (T&H 2016). 

4.      The Honorary Fellowships Awarded to distinguished people in the areas of the fine art of photography and science.

Winners: Adam Fuss, David Hurn, Hellen van Meene, Mert & Marcus, Ingrid Pollard Adam Fuss - Born London 1961 he lives and works in New York and originally trained as an advertising   photographer. He uses early photographic techniques, objects, light and light-sensitive material when photographing his unusual subject matter which includes water droplets, smoke, flowers and birds captured in flight. 

David Hurn - Established his international reputation with his intensely personal coverage of the late 1950s and 1960s. He became a full member of Magnum Photos in 1967. In the 1970s he returned to his home country Wales to explore what the word culture meant to him. To this end he planned a trilogy of books, dealing with the way the Welsh live, who are its people, and the landscape, two of which have been published to date. 

Hellen van Meene – Dutch Photographer renowned for her portraits of adolescent girls. Her images are steeped in a sense of transition – the time between girlhood and womanhood, innocence and experience, peacefulness and disturbance, awkwardness and grace. Her work has been exhibited internationally and is in the collections of major museums around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum, the V&A and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. 

Mert & Marcus – Celebrated fashion photographers whose clients include Louis Vuitton, Missoni, Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Fendi, Kenzo and Miu Miu. They created the images for perfume houses such as Gucci, Yves St Laurent and Givenchy and have also worked with celebrities including Madonna, Lady Gaga, Julia Roberts, Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Linda Evangelista, Gisele Bündchen, Kylie Minogue and Victoria Beckham. 

Ingrid Pollard - Ingrid Pollard has played an important role in photography nationally and internationally since the 1980s, documenting black people’s creativity and presence in Britain. Pollard became known for her photographic series questioning social constructs such as Britishness and racial difference through the conventions of portraiture and landscape photography and has exhibited worldwide.   

5.      The Lumière Award For major achievement in the field of cinematography, video or animation. 

Winner: Emmanuel Lubezki – Lubezki is a 3-time Academy Award-winning Cinematographer, known for his ground breaking techniques and immersive style. Born in Mexico City, Lubezki began his career in Mexican film and television productions in the late 1980s. He is the only cinematographer in history to have won three consecutive Oscars (The Revenant 2016, Birdman 2015 and Gravity 2014). 

6.      NEW FOR 2016: Editorial, Advertising & Fashion Photography Award For outstanding achievement and excellence in the fields of editorial, advertising and fashion photography. 

Winner: David Stewart - Began his career photographing punk bands including The Clash and The Ramones. His advertising portfolio is substantial and includes TFL, Channel 4, Heinz and Vodafone. 

7.      NEW FOR 2016: Photographic Publishing Award For outstanding achievement or sustained contribution in the field of Photographic Publishing (including the printed page, e-books or online publications). 

Winner: Benedikt Taschen - Major publisher of art books, particularly photography, Taschen has helped bring photography into a broader public view, by publishing controversial photography alongside more mainstream subject matter.

8.      NEW FOR 2016: The Curatorship Award Recognising excellence in the field of photographic curatorship, through exhibitions and associated events and publications. 

Winner: Diane Dufour - Director of LE BAL, a contemporary art centre dedicated to photography, video, cinema and new media and one of the foremost exhibition spaces for photography in Europe. Dufour has compiled numerous reference works on contemporary photographers, including Mark Lewis (2015) and Gerard Petrus Fieret (2016). 

9.      NEW FOR 2016: Scientific Imaging Award Awarded to an individual for a body of scientific imaging which promotes public knowledge and understanding. 

Winner: Spike Walker ASIS FRPS - A Zoology graduate with a 70 year obsession with microscopes, microscopy and photomicrography. His photographs of living freshwater protozoa and algae were published by Philip Harris Biological Ltd in the 1960s as an extensive series of teaching slides.


10.  The Combined Royal Colleges Award For an outstanding contribution to the advancement of medical photography or medical imaging.   

Winner: Prof. Caroline Wilkinson – Authority on facial reconstruction and often called on as an expert in the media, Prof Wilkinson is a leading figure in facial anthropology and the developments used to reconstruct/identify individuals without DNA, fingerprints and dental records. 

11.  The Education Award For outstanding achievement or sustained contribution in photographic education, including inspirational teaching and course design. 

Winner: Paul Hill MBE - Born in 1941 in Ludlow, Shropshire, Hill worked as a newspaper reporter from the late 1950s until he became a freelance photographer in 1965. As a photojournalist he worked for the Birmingham Post & Mail, The Guardian, The Observer, The Telegraph Magazine and the BBC, amongst others. He has exhibited regularly since 1970 throughout the British Isles, Europe, North America, Japan and Australasia. His work is in the art collections of, amongst others, the V&A, Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm and the Australian National Gallery, Canberra. 

12.  The Hood Medal Awarded for a body of photographic work produced to promote or raise awareness of an aspect of public benefit or service. 

Winner: Nick Hedges – Hedges uses photography to highlight social issues and has worked for variety of charities and pressure groups including Shelter and MENCAP. His photographs depicting the critical social importance of housing were central to Shelter’s campaigns. He has also independently produced books and exhibitions about urban life in the UK. His exhibition Make Life Worth Living was at the Science Museum from 2014-2015 and his work was acquired by the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid last year. 

13.  The Selwyn Award For those under the age of 35 years who have conducted successful science based research connected with imaging, sponsored by The Imaging Science Group of The Society. 

Winner: Dr Gaurav Gupta - Researcher in computational and human visual perception. He obtained a PhD in Artificial Intelligence in 2012 from the University of Westminster and subsequently joined the Computational Vision and Imaging Technology research group there. For the first quarter of 2016, he worked on developing a novel unsupervised human shape extraction algorithm for an application involving the fusion of fMRI and visual data. Since then, he has been working as a research associate at the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, on a project designed to better understand the effect of lighting on visual and non-visual responses in humans. 

14.  The Vic Odden Award For achievement in the art of photography by a British photographer aged 35 or under. 

Winner: Chloe Dewe Mathews - Award-winning photographic artist based in London. Her work is internationally recognised and she has exhibited at Tate Modern, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Museum Folkwang and Fotomuseum Antwerp, as well as being published widely in newspapers and magazines such as the Guardian, Sunday Times, Financial Times, Harpers and Le Monde. Public and private collections have acquired her work, including the British Council Collection, the Irish State Art Collection and the National Library of Wales.   

15.  The Fenton Medal with Life Membership Awarded to members or non-members who has made an outstanding contribution to the work of The Royal Photographic Society. This award carries Honorary Membership of The Society. 

Winners: John Bebbington FRPS, Prof. Hermon Dowling ARPS, Prof. Andrea Liggins PhD MA ABIPP ASICI FRPS, John R Simpson ARPS John Bebbington FRPS - John has been an ambassador for the RPS for many years. His passion for nature is evident in his enthusiasm of photographing the natural world. He still enjoys leading courses and, with his wife (a classical botanist), has a busy round of talks to photographic and natural history societies and garden clubs. 

Professor Hermon Dowling ARPS – Educated at Campbell College and the Queen’s University of Belfast, he became renowned for his work in the area of Gastroenterology and became the President of the British Society of Gastroenterology in 1996. Hermon is passionate about his photography and joined the Society in 2009 has been a crucial member of the Society’s Medical Awards Committee, serving as an external Committee member as the Royal College of Physicians’ representative. He is a member of the Travel group and gained an ARPS in Travel in June 2014. 

Professor Andrea Liggins PhD MA ABIPP ASICI FRPS – A keen advocate of the recruitment and advance of women within photography. Andrea has recently retired as the Dean of the Faculty of Art and Design at University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and is now an Emeritus Professor of Photography. She is a photographic artist and her exhibitions have been shown in Russia, China, India, across Europe and the UK. 

John R Simpson ARPS – John started out in photography aged seven with a Kodak Brownie 127. By eleven he was processing his own contact prints in the cellar under his mother’s pharmacy. He joined The Royal Photographic Society in 1992.He has worked on behalf of The Society organising local events, exhibitions and actively promoting the Society to local clubs. 

16.  The Members' Award For a member who, in the opinion of Council, has shown extraordinary support for The Society over a sustained period.    This award carries with Honorary Life Membership of The Society. 

Winner:  Mary O’Connor LRPS – Mary was formerly a Trials Analysis Engineer with Marconi Defence Systems.  In1986 she married John O’Connor an ardent photographer and became passionate about photography after that. She joined the Thames Valley Region Committee in 2000, where she worked tirelessly as a regional organiser for the RPS for six years.  She runs activities and Advisory Days that encourage new and aspiring photographers to pursue their dreams. 

17. The Bill Wisden Fellowship of the Year Named after Bill Wisden MBE HonFRPS for his 50+ years’ service to The Society, The Bill Wisden Fellowship of the Year is awarded for the most outstanding of the Fellowships that The Society confers annually.

Winner:  Tony Bramley FRPS – Tony has always been interested in modern and contemporary art and his Suprematist  work is a direct link to Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich’s ‘Dynamic Suprematism’ period.  Tony’s work aligns with Malevich’s ideology, within photography, celebrating light, colour, geometry and space (two dimensional and implied three dimensional  space).  His pieces are abstractions from single photographs providing only the essence of the original image.


18. Joan Wakelin Bursary Administered by The Guardian and The Society, the Joan Wakelin Bursary is named in memory of photojournalist Joan Wakelin HonFRPS, a legacy from whom funds the bursary, and is awarded for the best proposal for a photographic essay on an overseas social documentary issue.

In 2016, the shortlisted candidates were Rick Findler, Maria Alejandra Huicho, Tom King, Guy Needham and Matilda Temperley.  This year’s winner is Matilda Temperley, who will be travelling to Ghana to document the WHO’s new global strategy to eradicate leprosy.


19. TPA/RPS Environmental Awareness Bursary In partnership with The Photographic Angle, The Society offers two £3,000 bursaries to support photographic projects that promote environmental awareness, one to an applicant under 30 and one to an applicant over 30.

This year’s over 30s winner is Alan McFetridge. Alan will study the effect of the recent forest fires in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada.

The under 30 bursary is jointly awarded to Hanna Jedrosz and Carl Bigmore.  They will consider the resonance of history and human actions through a documentary project depicting the European Green Belt which, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, marks a boundary between east and west Europe and a corridor where wildlife has been able to flourish.


20. The RPS Postgraduate Bursary The Society’s Postgraduate Bursary supports postgraduate students undertaking photographic research or studying Masters courses in photography.

The Society’s Postgraduate Bursary is awarded to Michael Vince Kim.  His project traces the memory of the Koreans of Mexico and Cuba, who arrived under the false promise of new opportunities in a paradisiac land only to be treated like slaves under the scorching sun in henequen plantations.

21. RPS Cinematography Award The RPS Cinematography Award, in partnership with DepicT!, the Watershed’s micro short filmmaking competition, is awarded for the best cinematography within the selected short films.  This award is judged in the Autumn and the 2016 winning film will be shown at next year’s awards ceremony.

The 2015 winners of the award were George Lewis, Thomas Phelan, James Hambleton-Plumb, Jack O’Dowd and Isaac McCardle, for the short film The Factory.  Sound mix and music by Thomas Hawkesworth.

Additional Information: 

About the RPS Awards The selection committee is made up of senior members of The Society and respected external advisors, working in different spheres of photography, who determine the eventual winners. Recent Award recipients have included photographers Terry O’Neill, Steve McCurry, Annie Leibovitz, Sir David Attenborough and Dr Brian May CBE. The RPS is an educational charity open to everyone interested in photography, amateur or professional, artist or scientist. www.rps.org 

The Macallan The Macallan is one of the world’s leading single malt whiskies. Since its founding in 1824, The Macallan has built a reputation across the world for a single malt whisky of outstanding quality and distinctive character. The Macallan has an active involvement in photography through its Masters of Photography Programme. www.themacallan.com