Royal Photographic Society

Every month, when we open the pages of Current Archaeology or any of its sister publications, we are presented with wonderful photographs as well as compelling stories about our heritage. It is evident that there are many skilled photographers working in archaeological units and museums up and down the country who would not consider themselves to be professional photographers, yet their work demonstrates a level of competence that goes well beyond the simple creation of a record shot.

The solidity of brick and concrete contrasted with the skeletal form of the Grade II-listed gasholder in Barrack Road, Great Yarmouth, which was made in 1884.

Many of the photographs show an insight into composition and image-processing that leads to the creation of images of aesthetic and artistic merit in themselves, provoking thought and an emotional response from the viewer. There is also great skill in finds photography – for example, in the use and control of lighting for such diverse materials as glass, stone, metals, and textiles. These images are clearly the work of people who love to take photographs, to challenge themselves technically, and to create images that captivate and engage the viewer.

Located on a spur projecting from Castlerigg Fell, with Helvellyn and High Seat mountains visible in the distance, Castlerigg stone circle dates from c.3000 BC. Image: Mike Glyde

Many of us are drawn to archaeology because it is a multi-disciplinary subject, integrating the sciences, humanities, and arts. In each discipline, there are forums and special interest groups for sharing knowledge and schemes for recognising achievement. For more than 50 years, the Archaeology and Heritage Special Interest Group (AHSIG) of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) has provided that focus for photographers who specialise in the art of documenting and illustrating our historic environment.

The RPS provides its members with globally recognised distinctions, progressing from Licentiate (LRPS) to Associate (ARPS) and finally to Fellowship (FRPS). We provide courses, workshops, talks, and guidance from leading photographers to help you develop your practical and creative skills. We also present an annual exhibition of members’ work (printed and projected digital images) at a variety of locations across the UK, based on various themes.

The RPS supports everyone, from those just starting out on their photographic journey to those who have garnered expertise over a long career. Do come and join us: to find out more, drop me a line for a chat at or visit

We are grateful to Mike Glyde, Chair of the Royal Photographic Society’s Archaeology and Heritage Special Interest Group, for contributing this month’s column.

TEXT: Mike Glyde