Some of you may have been pondering my numerous visits into London – a city I’ve never professed to like very much – this year. I’ve made three trips already and there will be many more to come. Now seems like the time to expand on why I’m making these trips. All revolves around my idea for a challenge for 2014, something to keep my creative juices flowing and to make me think and push me to improve this year.
Since I got into photography in late 2010 I’ve used different projects or challenges as a way to learn. In 2011 I did a 365 project: a photo a day, for a whole year. I did it and didn’t miss a day or cheat or anything, but it was hard at times to put it mildly. In 2012 and 2013 I had the Photographer of the Year competition to challenge me: I came close to winning it in 2012 and not quite so close in 2013. This year I’ll be attempting the Photographer of the Year again although it won’t be quite the same as the previous two years in terms of challenge because so many of the previous winners and challengers of the title have pulled out for one reason or another so I’ve decided to try something different – I’m going to gain a distinction from the Royal Photographic Society.
A what I hear you ask? A distinction (see the RPS website here) is a standard of achievement recognised throughout the world. Specifically I’m going for the Licentiate distinction, which gives me the right to put the letters LRPS after my name, should I chose. I’ve been reading up on this for a while and have now decided to bite the bullet and put some effort into bringing my work up to the standard required. Licentiateship is the first (lowest) distinction, and it is possible to progress to an ARPS (Associateship) and FRPS (Fellowship) but these are a way off for me yet. The website describes the Licentiateship as “images of a high standard of photographic execution – demanding but achievable for most dedicated photographers.” so I reckon with a bit of effort to improve my images and probably more importantly the presentation and selection of the images it should be achievable for me.
In a nutshell I have to present a panel of ten printed images to a panel of judges for assessment. These images should be based loosely on a theme and presented in a complementary way to each other so that the panel of prints flows nicely. The RPS hold critique sessions and have online and other methods of support, so it should be achievable with the support available and there will be a tangible result at the end of the journey.
The trips to London are to give me some material on a subject to work with. While I haven’t yet decided on the exact composition or theme it will be based around London. I reckon that I need a varied selection of work so I don’t want it all to be night photography or all architecture for example. I’m going to spend a fair part of this year exploring different parts of London and the many different types of photography that are possible in the capital city before deciding on my panel of prints. From London I can easily shoot many categories – street, long-exposure, night, HDR, architectural, people, transport, maybe even wildlife. I’ll try my best to improve my work and to make it varied while keeping to a coherent theme.
Distinctions and external competitions are something that are so difficult to get to understand, but I’m beginning to figure them out slowly. They aren’t mentioned or explained as much in clubs as they perhaps should be, because I think both are good ways for photographers to advance the quality of their work. That is my aim, I hope it works and that I can learn and improve as the year goes on.
So there is my challenge for 2014. I’ve announced it now so I can’t back out! Hopefully I’ll get some cracking images along the way and as I start to progress my LRPS application I’ll blog it all on here so people can see the journey I’ve made, and I hope it ends up ultimately successful!