I attended a RPS Advisory day in October 2014 and it was an eye opener. I drove to St Mary Bourne in Hampshire for a day that was to include both ARPS and LRPS victims or should I say candidates. It was a really enjoyable and instructional day and one that helped me get a far better handle on what is required for a LRPS.
The judges made a point of explaining at length what LRPS Assessment judges are looking for and my take out was
- Variety, variety and a bit more variety but more of that below
- Technical issues especially blown highlights are the number one reason for failure
- Make a coherent panel and what does coherent mean exactly
- Your best shots might not make the best panel
- It doesn’t matter if the judges like your images; but I suspect that does matter
So variety was drummed into us and that means variety of technique. Show control of shutter speed, depth of field and lighting conditions, if you’ve got macro or portraits use them but that’s not essential and the same goes for landscapes. The critical thing is to show that you can work in a variety of lighting conditions and that you understand how to control the camera and understand composition to get the best results. They are not looking for a personal style or a story.
They were very hot on technical issues so don’t for a moment assume that a slightly soft shot will go noticed. They will pounce on it. Similarly dodgy mounts or less than perfect prints will cost you dearly.
One interesting thing to note is that prints have about a 70% pass rate and digital 50% so go digital with caution.
The thing I am struggling with most of all is how to achieve a harmonious, coherent panel, one that that a pleasing balance. I must admit that as the judges swapped and changed panels about I struggled to find a single formula they were trying to achieve. But a few things became clear.
- Panels comprising of two rows of 5 are the norm and are fine. Three rows of 1,3,6 or 3,3,4 may also work for you
- The corners images should look inwards if featuring people or act as bookends to constrain the panel. This could be achieved with colour
- If you have images featuring vertical, centrally aligned subject matter keep them in he centre.
- If you’re using mono having a row of 5 mono is fine or creating diagonals of mono or people shots also works.
- The best advice I heard was to print 20-30 shots that you think might work and lay them out on the floor, then swap, reject and change.
Then you’ll realise that you have a number of gaps so grab your camera and get out there and start shooting to fill the holes. Sounds easy doesn’t it.
My plan is to start printing in November, filling the gaps in December, mounting and panicking in January and then go to my own advisory day in February. No doubt my panel will be torn apart so I’ll have a two months window to shoot a completely new set and then aim to go for my assessment day in June or July. I know I’m leaving plenty of time but it will slip by all too soon.
If you want a soul crushing account of how a very talented pro photographer shot his LRPS panel in six hours read a very long thread at http://www.talkphotography.co.uk/threads/my-successful-lrps-panel.532264/ and then be very depressed. Talented people don’t you hate them.