This ‘path to a distinction’ is turning out to be extremely twisty, and pretty steep. After two false starts (for the gory details read my earlier Aiming for an 'A' posts!) I hope that it is now ‘third time lucky’.
I have long been interested in history, and my current (version 3) focus for my panel has come from this interest. In some ways, my interest in bell ringing demonstrates this, as one of the reasons I ring is to carry forward a 400-year-old tradition and keep it alive.
I’ve been photographing history through shooting our buildings, countryside, vehicles and traditions for years. So it seemed to be a natural progression to take ‘heritage’ as the theme for my new panel.
I re-wrote my statement of intent, keeping it short and to the point – just 60 words - and started to put together my pictures. Although I have lots of photos of heritage items, activities and sites, most of them aren’t good enough for an ‘A’ panel. After a while I signed up for another Advisory Day, this time at Amersham, on 19 January. I came to this venue for my 'L' Advisory Day, and I like it. It's easy to find, easy to park, and open and airy thus avoiding the claustrophobic crush of the RPS HQ at Bath. And you get proper tea in real cups! (Thank you, local RPS ladies!)
A few days prior to the Advisory Day I ran into two problems. One of the prints which I had ordered arrived damaged and I didn’t have time to have it re-done., and I the mounts for two of the images I’d planned to use were the wrong size. I should have known better than to discover this at this late stage:
Put everything together well before the date, so there is time for corrections or changes!
As always, the Advisory Day itself was interesting because it is fascinating to view other photographers’ work and hear some very knowledgeable comments on it.
There were quite a few panels reviewed during the day, with an average of 10 minutes per panel. Several were work in progress panels, so mine was not alone. Each panel was assessed, and then commented on. I have learned a lot from listening to what has been said about other people’s panels at the various Advisory and Assessment Days I’ve attended.
There were two panels being assessed for the LRPS which were considered to be at a level for the photographers concerned to submit for the ‘A’. These were both mono panels, one a very gritty travel panel which was left up for a while to enable everyone to take a good look at it.
The other was a very strong set of street images.
As well as many natural history images (there seemed to be quite a few owls photographed!), there were some out of the ordinary panels. The one which provoked the most ‘rustling’ in the audience was an extremely striking set of HDR processed images taken at steam railways. I love steam trains, and my dad was a signalman when you still had to pull levers, so I have a connection with the subject and loved the approach, but it certainly created a lot of conversation!
When we finally got to my offering I was relieved to hear my statement of intent seemed to receive a favourable response. My idea also met with some positive comments, which was encouraging after my earlier abandoned attempts.
Of the 15 images I put up, one was referred to as a ‘so what’ picture, and one was seen as something it wasn’t. I thought it was obvious what the picture depicted, but clearly I was wrong. Each image within a panel must stand up for itself and not require explanation, so that was another image which will have to come out.
I was reminded again, through comments made about my own panel and others, that when submitting for RPS distinctions, you have to think differently than when you are looking at individual images for other purposes. Some of these images had done very well in other channels, but were dismissed as potential panellists!
Of my 15, there were two pointed out as being my strongest, with another three or four as possibles. It was useful to see which ones were picked, as it shows the kind of work which was catching the eye of the assessors, and just as importantly, which work wasn’t. However, it means I have at best about a third of a panel, and a lot of work still to do.