It was like Schrödinger’s E-mail… my eyes were closed tightly as I pressed open. There was a pause before I opened my eyes to reveal the outcome, had all the hard work, time, effort, blood, sweat and confusion been worth it?
In order to reach this point; the voyage I decided to undertake two years hence, had taken more than one circuitous route. The reasons for setting off on this existential photographic endeavor had changed mid passage; moving from the “I must prove them wrong” to the “I’m doing this for myself”. That moment of realization that this entire voyage was for my benefit and no one else’s that made the passage a much smother one, with calmer seas, fairer winds and a prevailing attitude of pride in my work, it propelled me forward towards opening the email from the Distinctions Team at the Royal Photographic Society .
It had been a long long trip. So many obstacles had been in my way. Trying to get everything ready, printed, mounted and delivered to the RPS in Bristol, in the midst of pandemics, lockdowns and chaos was the easy bit. It was the periods of self doubt, second guessing and over analyzation of the whole Licentiate process that caused numerous return visits to the doldrums.
There were times when I looked at the panel of photographs I was presenting and thought, “I need more; these aren’t good enough”, the over analyzation and panic was setting in. I had the horrible feeling I was setting myself up for a scuppering of Titanic proportions.
With Covid-19 ravaging the nation and lockdowns affecting everyone, how could I build and add to my body of work? I had booked an RPS Zoom One to One thinking I would be well prepared to share my final panel with whom ever I would be chatting but I really wasn’t. In my haste I went through my entire body of work, looking for something I could present, even as a half-arsed presentation, and I discovered, that some of my old stuff was actually quite presentable.
Having not looked at some of the photos for many many years, all the time from taking them to now, I had developed a more critical eye; and could, in my very limited way, appreciate their photographic merits (or not with the very early stuff) and look to my more recent work and muse more coherently upon their suitability for presentation.
The Zoom One to One with the brilliant Sarah Dow, was without doubt one of the most useful and pivotal points in this entire process. The lifting of the fog and clarity of thought that Sarah gave me in our extensive chat forced me to rethink the whole project, my reasoning behind it and put this ships head on a new and more direct route to the final destination.
But the course of true [photography] never did run smooth and to say there were complications in regards to my assessment in June was an understatement.
I am to this day still unclear as to why I couldn’t be assessed the first time, and this will never be the forum by which to explore that route, but suffices to say, a couple of my images caused a great discussion to the extent that I couldn’t be assessed. It was with great relief that the Distinctions team at the RPS said they would defer the assessment by a month and somehow squeeze me in to an already full day
From that point on I just had to let time pass… slowly, ever so slowly… until the afternoon of the 21st July… and then that email from the RPS…