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RPS Awards

Discussion in 'AP Magazine Feedback & Suggestions' started by RattyinStirling, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. RattyinStirling

    RattyinStirling New Member

    My experience of the RPS Awards.

    I took up photography in the 1970's using mainly slide film but it was a few years later that I got more interested and became almost obsessed by mono. I ended up with an occasional darkroom and did all my own processing to produce prints - mainly scenic/landscapes.

    I then decided that I wanted some tuition so I enrolled on a series of evening classes at my local College based on a City & Guilds qualification - 926 rings a bell. It was a series of modules of one or two terms duration on different topics. I started off on the Basic one then moved onto Documentary, Landscape, Photo Essay, Constructed Images & Portrait. Several of these took me into areas that stretched my skills and I thoroughly enjoyed the learning that came from this. Most of the modules were done in mono but a couple used colour prints. We had a brilliant tutor for them who was so positive and encouraging and was himself a recognised artist with several commissions & exhibitions to his credit. Under his tutelage - moderated externally - I gained a total of 6 Distinctions & 1 Merit in these modules. I was already a member of the Royal Photographic Society and noted that 5 Distinctions was considered appropriate to achieving the LRPS so I applied and gained the Award by that route.

    I then aspired to the Associateship and over a couple of years started to accrue pictures that I thought would be a suitable panel - all Landscapes. I went along to a viewing session at Jessops of Leicester led by a notable Midland photographer who was of course an FRPS. His style was pretty ruthless and not the best example of constructive feedback I have seen and I was quite glad that I hadn't put up a panel of my own. One of the participants was very upset by the gross dismissal of his images. Another comment that irritated me was when a panel came up for ARPS submitted by someone who had gained their LRPS through the City & Guilds route. This was dismissed by the Assessor as the 'Easy' way to get the 'L'. I found this so insulting as to gain the Award this way needed the submission of at least 5 sets of at least 10 images in 5 different genres. I did however identify a locally recognised mentor to whom I could show my images before submitting to get some opinion.

    I went away and put my panel together - 15 mono images of Landscapes from a range of locations but with what I felt was a personal style, selected from hundreds of pictures. I nervously took them along to my mentor who helped me revise my choice of 15 prints from a set of about 20. I was ready to go for it. I deliberated about the order and set up a mock viewing for a couple of friends who suggested a re-ordering then packaged it all up and drove down to Bath to hand it in. On the way back I had a great afternoon at Westonbirt Arboretum capturing colour images of Autumn trees.

    A few weeks later it was back down to Bath for the assessment. Guess who was the lead assessor? Yes it was the one who had done the hatchet job at Leicester, but good news my mentor was also on the team. We saw several panels that were clearly up to standard but then one was put up that I felt was quite poor. The Lead Assessor first asked who had mentored the photographer and it turned out it was one of his best mates so without more ado he announced that 'Because X had supported this application it must be up to standard' and without more ado it gained the ARPS. No comments are allowed but I detected a slight murmur from the observers. After a coffee break my panel came up for judgement and having seen the standard so far I thought I was OK. No sooner than the last picture was placed on the board the assessor announced that 'This person needs to get up in the morning and get some good light - not up to scratch at all - next panel please.' I was devastated - there was a good range of lighting conditions - my style was high contrast powerful compositions so perhaps he didn't like them but to dismiss them so seemed so unfair. My mentor declined to add anything to the non-debate which I thought was very weak. The next panel was another of the lead assessors mates so was eulogised despite being in my opinion rather mediochre.

    I came away from the day totally disillusioned and it took a long time to get back out taking pictures - coincidentally my membership of RPS was due about a month later and I didn't renew my allegiance to an old boys club that favoured their mates and put down others.

    I recovered my confidence and achieved a little revenge a few years later. I entered a Photo Essay competition run by a Birmingham Art Gallery using some pictures of a climbing competition. I came second and received some very warm comments about my pictures from the presenter of the prize. The winner was - guess who - yes it was the assessor of my panel with a set of pictures of hospital life. They were OK but not brilliant and I overheard a couple of people in the audience saying that they thought my set was better and it was only because 'he was who he was' that he had won. I learnt later that the set he submitted were well worn and had been around various competitions for several years. I felt vindicated as my pictures were original and taken for the competition, I cherish them still and they made a portfolio feature in a well loved weekly photo magazine for which I received a modest fee.

    I am sure that the RPS has moved on from the days that I describe, the concept of constructive feedback certainly sounds different from what I received.
     
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    For those that don't subscribe to AP, the issue in the shops next Tuesday has an article on RPS grading.
     
  3. Craig20264

    Craig20264 Well-Known Member

    What an odd first post. :confused:
    How long have you been waiting to get that off your chest?
    Welcome along by the way :)
     
  4. RattyinStirling

    RattyinStirling New Member

    About 25 years probably!
    I promise to contribute less angst ridden posts in the future and look forward to the exchanges in this forum.
     
  5. Catriona

    Catriona Well-Known Member

    I'm just in the process of NOT renewing my membership. Apart from the Contemporary Group (especially on FB) nothing in the smelly monthly magazine really attracts me - and as for going for distinctions? No thanks. Big Old Boys Club, is the way I see it.
    No big deal! After all, it is simply an enlarged Salon, funded by charitable donations and membership fees etc. Not my scene and not yours either by the sound of it!
     
    Andrew Flannigan likes this.

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