RPS Advisory day at Wakefield Camera Club

On Saturday 14th November Wakefield Camera Club played host to the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) for an Advisory Day for people considering applying for the Licentiate distinction of the Society. In order to be awarded a Licentiate a member must “show good photographic competence in presentation, camera work, technical work, visual awareness and communication”. Given those criteria it promised to be a day when a host of wonderful images would be on display. So it turned out to be.

There were about 30 people attending the day at Brookhouse Club, the home of Wakefield Camera Club, and 18 of those had brought “panels” of prints – 5 of them members of Wakefield Camera Club (Trevor Bottomley, Nigel Hazell, Michelle Howell, Steve A Wood and Steve Wright). In order for a photographer’s work to be assessed they have to submit a body of work. Today’s Advisory Day was for prints only so each person with a “panel” had to submit 10 prints (and some spares given it was an advisory day) and these had to be arranged as a cohesive display – this is called a “panel”. Judges obviously would look for camera technique but also variety in skills used, subject treatment and balance in the display.

Once everybody had arrived and handed over their panels to Bob Helliwell, (RPS Yorkshire Region Treasurer), Mary Crowther (Regional Organiser for the RPS) started off proceedings with a brief introduction to the day. She then introduced the assessor for the day, Bob Gates ARPS, Deputy Chair of the Licentiate Assessment Panel and RPS Council Member. Bob gave a very informative talk about the assessment process and how the Assessment Panel works and what they look for in the prints. He explained what would pass, what would fail and what would be referred in the minority of cases where the submission just needed a little “tweak” to bring it to Pass standard. Throughout Bob used two example panels of 10 prints to illustrate his points, and then he brought on a fresh set of 10 prints which had only recently been awarded a Licentiate “pass” to show why it passed. The talk was packed full of really useful guidance for everyone which was evident by the way everyone was concentrating on every word!

After this, each of the panels brought for consideration for the Advisory Day was examined by Bob. As chair of an Assessment Panel he was well qualified to judge the standard of work presented – although he was at pains to point out that these were his own views and may not be shared by other panel members. He looked at each panel of 10 prints for some time and then commented in detail on both the entire panel (layout, balance, variety etc.)  and on each individual print for both good points and things that might give rise to criticism. He also gave his opinion as to whether the panel of prints would, in his opinion, be of the right standard and if not what could be done to bring it to that standard. All the while the comments were detailed, relevant and informative. He gave each panel about 15 – 20 minutes of his time and comment so everyone who submitted a panel of prints felt that they had received a thorough appraisal.

There was a short break for lunch in the midst of the panel appraisals but it wasn’t long before Bob was up on stage again examining more panels. Eventually all the panels had been assessed and Bob gave some closing remarks. He said he had been struck by the overall quality during the day and there had been some great panels. A high proportion was, in his opinion, good panels and there were only a few where some further work and “tweaks” were required. Of the Wakefield CC members Bob had found 2 panels where there was no reason to change anything and only minor “tweaks” were needed in the other three, which all goes to show the general standard within the club. Thanks to Bob for a marathon judging session – from 10:30 right through to 16:00!

The day was rounded off with a look at a panel of prints being developed for the Associate level. Sally Sallett of Wakefield Camera Club is developing a panel for this submission and it was presented to Bob for comment. This showed what people could aim for as the next level above Licentiate. This evaluation was an excellent way to finish the day as it highlighted the difference between the levels of membership and how photographic skills can be continually developed, improved and rewarded. The organisation of the day and the location were very good (thanks to David Kershaw, Steve Womack and Sally Sallett of Wakefield CC for their efforts) and it ensured everyone went home feeling that it had been a worthwhile event. You can see some images from the event below.

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