BIPP Fellowship

Have you ever worked so hard for something, only to find that when you achieve it the feeling is somehow surreal? Because that’s how I’m feeling today …… I’ve realised my biggest ambition – I’ve gained my BIPP Fellowship distinction (British Institute of Professional Photography).  I think any photographer who has been through the distinction process with the recognised photographic institutions (the BIPP, RPS, MPA, and The Societies) will remember only too well the time and effort invested in the years it can take to bring a successful Panel to fruition. It was wonderful to receive a very special telephone call today from the Chief Executive, Chris Harper FBIPP.

There are three stages to photographic qualifications (notwithstanding external qualifications such as a Degree or HND) and these are Licentiate, Associateship and ultimately Fellowship. At Licentiate level the awarding body is looking for technical competence and evidence that the photographer is fully in control of their subject, and is producing images which are professional and merchantable. Despite the Licentiate being the first rung of the ladder, it can be quite a tough distinction to obtain and it’s not uncommon to fail on the first couple of attempts. It takes a thick skin and a positive and determined outlook for the photographer to take on board the critique of the judges and to adjust their work accordingly. The next level of accreditation is that of Associateship, and this is a considerable jump forward from the Licentiate. At Associate level the judges are looking for not only technical excellence but evidence of an emerging photographic style and strong creativity, published work and a strong business ethic. In 2012 I gained Associateship distinctions in portraiture with the BIPP and the RPS, followed by an Associateship in nature photography with The Societies. Both my Panels took at least two years to put together. Not only must the images meet the required aesthetic standards, but the Panel (this is the collection of images which you will exhibit before the judges) must flow in a cohesive manner, and must be beautifully printed and mounted. Often it’s the order of the images in the Panel which the applicant can fall down on and I remember taking weeks to decide on the final form of my exhibitions. Then there is the nerve wracking day on which your Panel is assessed before a row of Fellows and often a public audience as well. The failure rate is high, unfortunately, but the feedback is constructive and very often the candidate will return and will be successful.

Gaining my Associateships in 2012 gave me a huge amount of self-confidence and this is where qualifications can have real value. Photography is a little different to most other professions in that artists in all their forms very often suffer from self-doubt and a painful lack of self belief. The approval of the Fellows in your Institute is the ultimate accolade. Confidence can mean everything, without it we cannot grow our businesses and effectively market our work. Without self belief we simply cannot move forward. My distinctions have had considerable value in this respect but also such qualifications give our clients reassurance that we are serious enough about our profession to invest hugely in our personal development. This is particularly true of any BIPP distinction – the Institute sets the bar extremely high and is regarded as representing the cream of fine art photographers, with a rigourous and challenging entrance process.

At Licentiate level the client knows that the photographer has been assessed for competency and can be expected to provide the goods. An Associate is a creative perfectionist who has gained a comparatively rare place in his or her genre and quite often Associates will judge other photographers and will advise on Panel submissions. Then there are the Fellows, who have demonstrated a level of uniqueness and creative excellence which squarely places them at the forefront of photographic artistry. The days when I stared in awe every time a Fellow passed me in the corridors at a photographic convention or seminar are still quite fresh in my mind, and I remain slightly reticent when it comes to approaching a well-known Fellow and introducing myself. Of course now that I am one that should be immeasurably easier!

Is my BIPP Fellowship the end of the journey? After all, it’s the pinnacle of the qualifications hierachy. In short, the answer is no. A Fellow is free to pursue further Fellowships in alternate subjects and I can think of several who have done precisely that. This is a marvellous thing about photography, it’s a never ending journey. I feel that I’m still only just scratching the surface and there is an infinite variety of possibilities to explore, as well as involvement with judging, mentoring, and assessing.

I should clarify what I mean by “vindication”? I think many ‘creatives’ can be their own worst critics, and those of us who suffer from perfectionism will relate only too well to that. And I suspect much of that will have roots in our childhood or else will have been formed from our closest relationships. When I was very young I looked forward to the rest of my life with so much excitement, I was always thinking about what I wanted to be and it never really occurred to me that I would not achieve my goals of being Prime Minister/plastic surgeon/inventor/fashion designer. That’s one of the simple beauties of childhood, our minds are open to every eventuality. But gradually as the years move on our outlook on life is adjusted according to our experiences and more importantly the mindset and circumstances of those around us. If we are conditioned to accept that there are no opportunities open to us then our self-worth can plummet. And I think it’s also true to say that many of us don’t always find out where our heart (let alone our talents) lie until much later in life when we finally have time to consider what it is we would really love to do.

Don’t let the naysayers in your life dictate your future. We all have very different dynamics within our families and within our closest friendships, but there must come a point where we look inside ourselves to the person within. We can’t spend our lives taking responsibility for others’ insecurities and that surely defines those who have tried so hard to slap us down whenever we dare to dream. And with that thought in mind I can confidently dedicate my success to the incredible photographers (both professional and amateur) who I have known and admired for so many years, and who have never failed to motivate, encourage and inspire me. Without the support of the institutes I belong to my awards and distinctions simply would not exist. Nor would my portfolio if it were not for my clients and the trust they have placed in me, not to mention the amazing animals I have also had the privilege of committing to print. You know who you are, and I will always be thankful.

Most of my Fellowship panel can be seen in this gallery: Fine Art Pet and Animal Portraiture

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
share on facebooktweet thispin thisbook your session
  • Mag D - February 12, 2013 - 6:47 pm

    What a fantastic achievement Lindsay. Reading your write-up was amazing, so full of vigour, enthusiasm, dedication and absolute stamina. Words fail me. Remarkable results, thank you again for many, many hours of sheer bliss spent looking at your work.

  • Lindsay - February 12, 2013 - 6:54 pm

    Thank you Mag. As I think any photographer would agree, it means a great deal to us when our images give others some pleasure or perhaps some inspiration if they are keen photographers.

  • Michelle Whitmore - February 13, 2013 - 3:11 pm

    The best news I’ve heard in a long time and so justly deserved – congratulations xx

  • Lindsay - February 13, 2013 - 3:17 pm

    Thank you Michelle – praise indeed from one of my favourite photographers! xx

  • Nat - February 15, 2013 - 11:27 am

    Hardly a surprise Lindsay given the vast number of awards youve won for your amazing photography. But I know what you mean about the vindication side of things, like you I’m hypercritical of my own work and photography is a form of art so it goes with the territory that not everyone will understand what we do why we do it. Yep – my family don’t “get” what I do so I’m with you on that one!

    As you know you’ve inspired me massively over the years and your help and advice has made a big difference to me. You’ve always been accessible and so helpful whenever I’ve needed a sounding board. This has prompted me to go back to the Licentiate panel I started putting together a year ago, but gave up on! Don’t ever change. Nat xx

  • John Barnes - February 15, 2013 - 11:56 am

    Lindsay, I have just read this blog post of yours. This is fantastic news, I am so so pleased for you. As a follower of your work, all the blog entries you post and how much you give back to the industry and inspire others, this is so richly deserved. I say this alongside the amazing imagery you produce and kindly share with us. You are deservedly recognised as being at the top of your profession. All the very best and very well done ! John.

  • Maria Michael - February 15, 2013 - 12:36 pm

    Your words were so moving Lindsay, more so for the little that I have come to know of you. But you have reached out and touched me in a way you possible did not expect.

    Your images were the ones that caught my eye when I first joined The Societies. They took my passion for capturing the unique personality of each animal and catapulted them into something truly remarkable.

    Through your emails you inspired me, giving me the push I needed to start to believe in myself and my images.

    Sometimes in life we almost begin to behave as though our circumstances, physical differences or emotional challenges, deny us the right to believe in ourselves and our ability to achieve our dreams. We want others to believe in us and travel by ourside, sharing every step with encouragement, as if somehow that protects us from the fall we have already prophesied.

    The truth is, only once we commit ourselves to take that journey alone, with a determination that is almost as instinctive as the taking of a breath, do we realise that we cannot ask others to believe in our dream, if we do not yet even believe in ourselves.

    However, once you are able to find the confidence and inner strength, suddenly everyone around you can feel the change and it liberates you, empowering you to seek new challenges with positivity and success – and look at what you have achieved already!

    As I have said before, let this fellowship be your shield to protect you from any negativity and doubt, and your inner voice that reminds you everyday, how remarkable you are.

  • Lindsay - February 15, 2013 - 12:48 pm

    John and Nat, thank you very much indeed for the kind comments. John, I’ve seen your work could grow over the last couple of years and I look forward to seeing more of your images this year.

    Nat, when I last saw your prospective Licentiate panel I felt you were very close to having a good submission. I’m sure now you’re even closer.

  • Lindsay - February 15, 2013 - 12:53 pm

    What lovely words, Maria. I do try very hard to capture the spirit of my subjects, no matter how simple the animal. The key to this is observation and timing, we need to react very quickly. I’m quite sure you’ll reach your goals, the passion you have for your subject is undeniable. As you say, we have to believe in ourselves, rather than worrying about the extent to which others may believe in us. Yes, confidence is a great motivator and we all find confidence in different ways. I tend to need black and white documentary evidence of my achievements, perhaps due to my former academic life in the scientific field. I’ll look forward to watching you grow and develop over the coming year Maria.

  • steve murray - February 28, 2013 - 12:31 am

    A beautiful collection of work, Lindsay, immaculately presented and framed with an artists eye for detail. Congratulations on gaining a richly deserved distinction in photography.

  • Lindsay - February 28, 2013 - 10:06 am

    Thank you for the kind comment Steve, it’s much appreciated.

f o l l o w