I therefore sent into the ARPS the 'advice form', duly completed, and with several sample images. The results were rather discouraging. Not because of the comments on the technical shortcomings - I had expected that sort of feedback and it was useful. But because some comments were made in terms of suggesting some additional images which I just couldn't see how I could achieve, and I was concerned that the assessment panel would have an expectation of what they might see which it was not realistically possible to shoot safely.
Given that I was already struggling, I found the feedback a bit crushing initially. And so my 'forlorn note' (link to the thread here!) was posted on the forum, asking for comments from others who had also hit a bit of a black spot in their ARPS journey. There were a number of kindly comments! As well as the forum responses, I received a message in response via my website, from two very kind people with much experience of RPS distinctions, offering to chat to me on the phone and see how they could help.
I snapped up the offer, and after speaking on the phone we arranged to meet up. Looking at my still incomplete panel with people who didn't have the same emotional connection as I do, it was sadly obvious pretty quickly that my bells images were not going to be the right path for the 'A'. I had taken some of my other work with me, and it was interesting to see how some pretty quick changes changed some of my images from 'ok' to 'possible ARPS candidates'.
A couple of sample images, after tweaks:
This is what they looked like before:
This was encouraging, as was the wider conversation about photography in general, and going for RPS distinctions in particular. Unsurprisingly, looking through my work and talking about options meant that the old issue of which category to apply for came up again. These two images would suit a Visual Art panel, whereas my current slot is for Professional and Applied!
You often hear negative comments about the rift between professional and amateur photographers, but this experience certainly counters that view. In all I took up a good couple of hours of the time of two busy professionals, and it was really valuable, and very much appreciated.