RPS Distinctions


RobL

Link Posted 27/04/2019 - 21:05
To those of you who have achieved a distinction at the Royal Photographic Society, LRPS, ARPS or FRPS, I salute you. I have just returned from an advisory day at their new HQ and would like to share my experience, and hopefully writing this will be cathartic because I am spitting feathers right now. To those of you who don't know, applying for a distinction involves submitting a panel of images which are assessed by a panel of judges without conferring with the applicant. There are however advisory days when your panel plus a few spares can be discussed and recommendations made about going forward after maybe making a few changes. I had an advisory session with a Fellow of the RPS a few weeks ago which went something like this: I like your overall panel, that works well. First image very nice, just lighten that bit; second image, love that, ready to go; third image ditto, fourth, change the colour balance; that spare is a really strong image just crop slightly and include, and so on. You get the picture, conclusion was make some processing tweaks and I should be ready to submit but as a precaution have one more advisory day first to make sure all the boxes are ticked.

So, to today. Fifteen people had booked for the 1015 to 1630 session; after half an hour of waffle we got started. Now anyone with an ounce of sense would have calculated that just 20 minutes per review had been allowed for but the first couple were conducted as if they had all the time in the world, chatting over minutae, swopping photos around, advising on printing techniques. Then a couple of digital submissions were up on a vast 13' wide screen and as it was the first time using the kit they took ages working out how to work it. By lunchtime I was pulling my hair out, guessing I would be one of the last to be seen.

After lunch it carried on as before, until with just forty minutes left and four more to see it was my turn, and they suddenly realised they were running out of time so my assessment was very rushed although we had all paid the same fee. Now, the same photos the previous advisor had liked and recommended this one dismissed out of hand as boring or with faults, so diametrically opposed opinions both on subject matter and technical quality. My submission of 10 + 6 spares was whittled down to 7 usable ones, and the rejects included one selected for Outdoor Photography magazine. But the main problem was I had printed on a photo lustre paper (not the advisor's favourite Photospeed, a definite mark down) and which the overhead lighting played havoc with, which apparently was my fault and not that of the poorly designed installation.

I came out furious that I had wasted so much time, effort and money, got completely opposing opinions and received no constructive criticism latterly other than to change my print paper, so the end of that particular line for me. Maybe I will feel different when I have come down off the ceiling but I doubt it.

JAK

Link Posted 27/04/2019 - 21:40
With all pieces of art folk have mixed opinions. Nothing new there!
As they say, 'One man's meat is another man's poison.'

If you've taken part in camera club competitions I'm sure you'll have noted that a photo one judge raves over will be instantly dismissed by another and vice versa. These are likely to be the same breed of 'judges' you'd been dealing with. They are all entitled to their opinions whether you agree with them or not.

At the end of the day your photos are your photos and you can either agree or disagree with any comments made at such gatherings. What matters if you're happy enough with them, I don't think any of us are ever fully so but one has to stop somewhere.

Just get over it and carry on!
John K
Last Edited by JAK on 27/04/2019 - 21:42

alfpics

Link Posted 27/04/2019 - 22:37
I agree with John's comment about basically personal preferences; however for an assessment/ review like that, surely Robe was owed constructive criticism for the actual images regardless of the paper he printed on and I can understand Rob's frustration over the way the day worked out timing wise, and that the 'duff' lighting didn't help (with the paper he had printed on) plus other technical issues - sorry to hear that.
Andy

JAK

Link Posted 28/04/2019 - 01:19
I do agree, It sounds as if they didn't really know what they were doing or why they were doing it. Lacking leadership somehow perhaps? Someone should have ben keeping an eye on the clock.
John K

RobL

Link Posted 28/04/2019 - 08:58
Thanks both, I will bank the seven photos that both advisors liked and maybe revisit some time in the future. Thinking back over the day it was clear that yesterday’s advisor struggled with anything “artistic” and when someone’s submission for such a category had been previewed by a specialist in that field he readily admitted he had no idea what the comments meant. So images of mine previously judged as well-observed and interesting were rejected as boring, and that is what got my goat. Here is one example:


As for print paper, the advisor admitted that how my panel looked under their lights gave him a negative impression from the outset which didn’t help but I find different subjects work better on different papers; Matt art paper is great for portrait and some landscape but the ones I have tried are simply not sharp and bright enough for action and macro insects. However for a submission they must all be on the same, so the photo lustre paper was a compromise recommended to me by a lady from Permajet who happens to be an ARBS. I will need to rethink that, experiment with different papers and check how they look with oblique lighting.

I suppose the whole advisory process has been useful in helping me to critically review my photos technically, but the contradictory views on the subject matter are difficult to reconcile.
Last Edited by RobL on 28/04/2019 - 09:03

womble

Link Posted 28/04/2019 - 10:21
This sort of thing is common in all walks of life. I edited a book a couple of years back and one of the papers I thought was the weakest was recommended as the most outstanding one in a review of the book. One has to take the useful parts and ignore the rest and, as hard as this is to do, not take it personally.

K.
Kris Lockyear
It is an illusion that photos are made with the camera… they are made with the eye, heart and head. Henri Cartier-Bresson
Lots of film bodies, a couple of digital ones, too many lenses (mainly older glass) and a Horseman LE 5x4.

My website

Algernon

Link Posted 28/04/2019 - 10:35
RobL wrote:
Here is one example:


That one's ruined by having TWO massive highlights Greatly improved by just cropping out the SUN at the top

Don't worry about it competitions are rarely fair..... I remember a guy once losing a beer drinking competition to a Greenal's dray horse He complained after that they let the horse use a bucket and he had to make do with a pint glass Claimed he would have won with a bucket

--
Half Man... Half Pentax ... Half Cucumber

Pentax K-1 + K-5 and some other stuff

Algi

RobL

Link Posted 28/04/2019 - 11:17
Algernon wrote:
RobL wrote:
Here is one example:


That one's ruined by having TWO massive highlights Greatly improved by just cropping out the SUN at the top

Hmm, you could be right - or maybe even more boring?!

--

RobL

Link Posted 30/04/2019 - 10:24
Now i have calmed down, retrieved my report from the bin and stuck it back together I recognise that technical matters in regard to the making of prints were valid and useful. I am sure I have come across the advisor before somewhere and I think he works for Photospeed but I could be wrong; however there were diametrically opposing views on image choice and layout between the different advisors I find difficult to reconcile; the first, Hazel Mason FRPS, was more empathetic and looking at her website I can see why that would be. Still, if I have to jump through the right hoops then so be it, maybe revisit the process again sometime but meanwhile get on with just enjoying taking photos for my own enjoyment.

alfpics

Link Posted 30/04/2019 - 10:56
Glad you have managed to do that - and yes, just enjoy taking photos; if that bit gets lost, then no point in it I guess!
Andy

davidtrout

Link Posted 01/05/2019 - 11:02
Judges comments at camera club competitions can be extremely unpredictable due to variations in personal taste. A favourite photo can be dismissed by one judge and raved about by another. But at RPS level it is reasonable to expect a higher standard of judging expertise. It sounds like your panel of judges at the RPS were not very well organised with their work load that day and ran out of time. Not good. I have happier memories of going for an LRPS panel at Bath. The judges panel seemed well focussed and gave each submission close attention to detail. They did, I think, 18 panels of prints by the lunchtime break - I was last one up before the break. Listening to their comments as the various submissions were assessed I learned to predict in advance which ones were going to be successful and those which were not. I had earlier attended an assessment day with leading RPS experts and had personal advice on my panel from a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society before taking my prints to Bath. It worked for me, I got my LRPS distinction.
At the end of the day the best and most important judge of your photos is yourself.
David
PPG: http://www.pentaxphotogallery.com/artists/davidtrout
Last Edited by davidtrout on 01/05/2019 - 11:07

RobL

Link Posted 01/05/2019 - 17:59
davidtrout wrote:
Judges comments at camera club competitions can be extremely unpredictable due to variations in personal taste. A favourite photo can be dismissed by one judge and raved about by another. But at RPS level it is reasonable to expect a higher standard of judging expertise. It sounds like your panel of judges at the RPS were not very well organised with their work load that day and ran out of time. Not good. I have happier memories of going for an LRPS panel at Bath. The judges panel seemed well focussed and gave each submission close attention to detail. They did, I think, 18 panels of prints by the lunchtime break - I was last one up before the break. Listening to their comments as the various submissions were assessed I learned to predict in advance which ones were going to be successful and those which were not. I had earlier attended an assessment day with leading RPS experts and had personal advice on my panel from a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society before taking my prints to Bath. It worked for me, I got my LRPS distinction.
At the end of the day the best and most important judge of your photos is yourself.
David

Thanks David and well done. Mine was just an advisory day, with a single advisor at HQ, and supposed to be (as I thought) the final thumbs up to go for an assessment after doing the tweaks to my panel suggested by an FRPS earlier. My quandary now is which one do I take notice of for my selection of photos, do I still trust the first or let the latest one overrule her? The advisory days always have a caveat that the views expressed may not be those of the judging panel, so I have drawn on the technical points from both and am attempting to make a final selection to include those they both liked.

RobL

Link Posted 05/03/2020 - 17:29
I have resurrected this old thread to give an update. I decided not to bother with another advisory session but put together an updated panel and booked an assessment for Licentiate which was yesterday, and to my complete amazement I passed! The session was far more organised and everyone was given about the same time; also there were four judges plus the chair lady and administrator so whilst one judge might comment negatively another would take a different view, and the consensus would give the benefit of the doubt. The chair lady was Hazel Mason with whom I had had a one to one advisory twelve months before, and afterwards said she had remembered me and some of my photos.

So my conclusion is that advisory sessions have a use and I don’t think I would have passed without them but I am glad I didn’t book any more as I was seriously doubting my own judgment. If there are one or two issues which prevent a pass then the applicant has a chance to resubmit with corrections, so seven or eight photos can be ‘banked’ and the assessment just considers whether the particular problems have been resolved and all but one resubmission yesterday sailed through. I am just glad I don’t have to go through that again, but then again I am already thinking about the next level - Associate!

spinno

Link Posted 05/03/2020 - 19:17
Well done!
David
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