ARPS Panel – Natural History Panel

Associateship of the Royal Photographic Society

After the mad rush of getting my L panel done in just 2 weeks i decided to take a bit more time getting my A panel done. With my main interest at the time being Natural History, it was easy to decide on a panel of birds and once again my library of images came to the rescue as I realised that there was hopefully no need to shoot anything new for the panel.

By now we had our fine art printer in the gallery so I could take plenty of time in getting the prints spot on in my preferred choice of a thicker mount. The first thing to do was to print off some proofs on a cheaper paper to play with a panel layout with real prints instead of on a screen, this really helps a lot!

With an advisory day booked and 20 prints on Hahnemuhle Museum Etching (the paper I use for all the Limited Edition Prints available in the shop) all ready to go, it was off to Amersham to get some advice.

As the panels were going up with statements of intent being read out, that was when I remembered that there was something I had forgotten, so quickly wrote one out on my iPad. The comments were mainly positive, a few images swapped around, a couple changed and the only negative was the paper choice.

Not that there is anything wrong with the paper just that it was seen as an unusual choice for a Natural History panel, so advised to change it to remove any objections.

Roger Reynolds was not just honest but ruthless with it as well but this was a positive for me as I’d much rather hear the truth than have a judge that is too nice that doesn’t want to offend. Hearing the phrase ‘if I was you I’d cancel your booking as you just won’t be good enough by then’ just emphasised that this really was a step up and not to be taken lightly!

So, with a rearranged and reprinted panel I was off to Bath for my assessment. There were a lot of nervous faces gathering in the foyer at Fenton House, with only one person not only appearing confident in his ability but boasting about how many awards he had won and that his panel would fly through.

Eventually we were lead upstairs to the assessment room to view all the panels. As this was a Natural History day, these panels should all be interesting for me, so I decided to relax a bit. That didn’t last long though as one by one the panels were not going through with only about 1 in 4 getting a pass. The biggest failure of note was our boaster from the foyer!

As you can imagine, at lunch time with most panels having failed to get through, I was starting to feel the nerves. Both Roger and Gill from my advisory day were there during the break and tried to assure me that my panel was good enough to go through and even though the failure rate was lower in the afternoon, when my panel came up I was almost feeling sick.

My statement of intent was read out and the judges then went for a closer look at the images. One judge had concerns on one image being slightly soft and another was really enthusiastic about the Firecrest singing his little heart out.

Then the most nerve wracking few moments I’ve had in many years followed whilst they talked amongst themselves before announcing that I had passed! Yes! A clenched fist and a feeling of relief was quickly followed by ‘well done!’ from my immediate neighbours sitting next to me.

Very quickly it seemed, the rest of the panels flew by, goodbyes were said and I drove all the way home with a broad grin from ear to ear! Seeds for my Fellowship panel were already being planted…..