6 January 2010

Aiming for an 'L' - Part 1

Now that we're in 2010, my 'L' (Licentiateship of the Royal Photographic Society) assessment in March feels scarily close. Last year I picked up a copy of the RPS's 'Distinctions Handbook' and over the holidays I took time to read it carefully. It has been very useful and I hope will mean I'll avoid failing on something really stupid and easily avoidable. It is permanently on my desk at the moment, with scrappy bits of paper & various notes & highlights within.

For the last couple of months I've been looking at my work and putting together some provisional panels. Applying for an 'L' is proving a useful stage in my photographic journey already because it's making me look at my photography with a far more fussy eye. Making sure all the technical aspects are spot on is one thing, but creating a 'cohesive panel' is something else, and is proving a serious challenge.

Looking at other photographers' successful panels creates a mixture of inspiration and petrification. I think I've now reached the stage where I could find myself de-railed by too much examination of any more panels. After all, my 'L' needs to be about MY work, and my own style.

Aiming for an 'L' has had another side effect too. Really helpful input from other photographers who are more experienced than I am and who have walked this path before me! It's easy to get tunnel vision when looking at your own work. Having some other eyes (not those of friends & family!) looking at what I do & how I present it has been very helpful, and certainly affected what I consider to be my stronger work. Again, it has also been an area where I've had to filter the advice and while taking on board various helpful comments, the end decisions on what I present and how are still down to me and it's important that I own them and feel that the panel I finally present represents me in a true and fundamental way, so that in future when I look back I can genuinely see how my work has progressed.

Although my assessment is in March, I have booked to attend an Advisory Day later this month. I am hoping the feedback from this will tell me if I'm going the right way with my idea of a 'cohesive panel'! The bottom line too of course is simply whether I am good enough to apply... I'm looking forward to meeting other photographers at the event, and to seeing what they're putting together.

All but four of the prints I've selected for the advisory day have arrived. I've carefully examined them for technical quality (as what you see 'in print form' isn't always what you see on screen), and already rejected one. Presenting them is now occupying my mind, as I have a mix of formats to deal with. It's a good thing I took some extra time off after Christmas/New Year as this sort of thing takes an inordinate amount of time to work through (for me anyway). Still, with the snow falling outside it is useful to have a project to make my enforced time at home profitable. Later on though I shall forget about panels and projects, wrap up and venture forth with my camera for some more 'snow photos'. Although perhaps I will take my compact as falling over on slippery surfaces & smashing up my DSLR doesn't top my list of 'things to do while on holiday'!

More to come in due course on 'Aiming for an 'L''.

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