Associate of the Royal Photographic Society..
A couple of weeks ago I presented a panel of 15 images to the Royal Photographic Society and I have been awarded an Associate Distinction making me an Associate member of the Society. I feel very honoured.
The distinction was the culmination of a project I have been working on for some time. A project totally out of my comfort zone which has stretched me creatively and photographically. Imerys, the company behind the china clay mining business in Cornwall gave me hard hatted, hi vis, escorted access to the docks and other abandoned clay sites in Cornwall. I am very grateful to Imerys for their help in creating this project.
For many years, china clay blasted from the hills above St Austell with water canon was pumped in suspension to Par Docks where it was stored in huge concrete silos before being dried and loaded aboard ships for export around the world but in 2006, it was announced that the docks would close along with the loss of 800 jobs.
One of my earliest memories is paddling in the sea at Par, sinking up to my ankles in sand mixed with china clay, the result of spillages from the docks. I was only two so this place has been a part of my consciousness for 48 years, I wanted to mark its passing with this project.
The panel I presented in the Contemporary category to the Royal Photographic Society is about my sense of loss and sadness that this closure evoked; my choice of processing served to emphasise the decline and abandonment. Once a hive of industry, the docks now just echo with the past and only its ghosts remain.
On a site once teeming with people and activity, wagons no longer run along their steel tracks. The vast sheds and huge silos stand empty, their machinery rusting slowly. The café with its strings of bunting still poignantly clinging on, hoping for better times, no longer serves its burgers and chips.
For seaman who needed spiritual guidance with their coffee, a welcome once awaited them at the flying angel club, but this too stands empty. The harbour office no longer takes enquiries and the phone box outside no longer makes calls, it stands at a drunken angle, its door long gone.
In my central image, the cross in the concrete suggests to me the need for an epitaph… ‘rest in peace’ perhaps?
I’m grateful to Imerys, the company responsible for china clay mining in central Cornwall, for providing escorted, hard hatted, hi vis access over an extensive period to what is now a closed demolition site in order to produce the panel.
When presenting a panel candidates are required to prepare a hanging plan as well as a statement of intent part, of which I’ve reproduced above. Below is my hanging plan. Candidates are advised to choose and arrange photographs so that they form a cohesive and balanced panel.
After a morning when not a single panel passed, lunch was rapidly approaching and I was sure my panel would go up after we’d all had a break but, when another panel was brought in and I realised it was mine, I hardly dared watch.
My statement of intent was read out and the panel of Royal Photographic Society Fellows, all experts in their field, got up to view the images. Some photographs were taken down for closer inspection, others pondered from a slight distance. After a short while, the panelists took their places once more and the Chairman of the Contemporary Panel asked for an initial vote on my work. The voting is done such that the audience cannot see how the panelists have voted. Each judge was then asked to offer a critique. I heard some good things said but we’d heard good things said about all the previous panels of pictures that had failed. The Chairman then asked for another vote. I could hardly believe it when the Chairman said, ‘this panel meets the standard’. Up until now it had all been anonymous so my name was read out and there was a round of applause. We broke for lunch and quite a few people came up to congratulate me. It was a nice moment.
Naturally there were many more than 15 photographs taken during the course of this project but for the purposes of the distinction panel, I had to choose just 15. I’ve put my 15 pictures into a gallery that you can view below. It’s been a very absorbing project and I’m now left thinking what I should tackle next..
beautiful collection of photos!!
October 2, 2014 at 6:45 pm
Thank you very much! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 6:50 pm
What a beautiful series Adrian! Well done and so deserties to be rewarded for this vast body of work and emotions! My favorites are the halls especially with the reflections in the water. Great lines!
October 2, 2014 at 6:58 pm
Thank you Chris. Really appreciate your comment! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm
Deserties is of course deserved! iPhone automatic dictionaries…
October 2, 2014 at 6:59 pm
Congratulations! Well Done.
October 2, 2014 at 7:04 pm
Thank you very much Neil! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm
Congratulations! That’s a super, and original, panel. Jolly well deserved!
October 2, 2014 at 7:41 pm
Thank you very much Rachael, that’s very kind! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm
Congratulations and well deserved, Adrian. I love the historical and personal nature of your project and that you pushed yourself out of your comfort zone to make this.
October 2, 2014 at 7:44 pm
Thank you very much Lee. Very much appreciated!
October 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm
A wonderful set of images–congratulations.
October 2, 2014 at 7:52 pm
Thank you very much Sally! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 8:02 pm
October 2, 2014 at 8:04 pm
Thank you Victor! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 8:06 pm
October 2, 2014 at 8:05 pm
Thank you very much Mike! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 8:07 pm
Congratulations, Adrian! It’s truly a beautiful, consistent set; and the feeling of loss is very subtle sensible. Great work.
October 2, 2014 at 8:22 pm
Thank you Harrie! I really appreciate your comment!
October 2, 2014 at 10:30 pm
Congratulations, great photo’s and i love the collors you gave it
October 2, 2014 at 8:48 pm
Thank you Ellen, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 10:17 pm
Certainly different to what we’re used to seeing here. Very well done, and very well deserved.
October 2, 2014 at 9:16 pm
Thank you Lignum. It was a challenging and very rewarding project. I certainly think it does us good to tackle something different every now and then. :-)
October 2, 2014 at 10:18 pm
The “barely there” colours, the almost touchable textures and the clarity of these images are divine. The story you tell is poignant and I am glad that you have captured the site before it disappears forever. A worthy project and you must be so proud to have been chosen. As for your next project, what about capturing all the remaining tin mines before they crumble into the sea?
October 2, 2014 at 9:17 pm
Thank you Jude. I think the tin mines would be a very interesting project to work on. The challenge I think would be to bring something new to these very often photographed iconic structures. Certainly something to think about. Thanks for your thoughts! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 10:21 pm
That is why I think it would be a good project for you as you do have a different way of looking at things and would most likely bring something else into the equation.
October 2, 2014 at 10:24 pm
That’s kind of you to say Jude. I’ll have to start planning some shoots! :-)
October 2, 2014 at 10:31 pm
Congratulations Adrian and thoroughly deserved. I particularly like numbers 2, 4, 6, 13 & 14 from you’re hanging plan.
October 2, 2014 at 9:29 pm
Thank you Mark! The empty sheds were a gift photographically. Fourteen was a retake of a shot I took about three years ago with a point and shoot. St Austell Bay Boat Club have a slip at the docks and I met up with a friend for an afternoon on his boat. I took this shot on the way back to my car. The rails and the tyre tracks in the clay dust were what caught my eye. The quality of the original shot was pretty poor however and on several visits to the site, I tried to recreate the shot and I just couldn’t get it right. A few days before I was due to present, the sun was shining just as it was on that first afternoon and I decided I’d give it one last try. I managed to get the shot. Perseverence paid off :-)
October 2, 2014 at 10:29 pm
Wow this is great photograhy
October 2, 2014 at 10:37 pm
Thank you very much Lou!
October 3, 2014 at 7:31 am
Outstanding photos. Congratulations, and well-deserved.
October 2, 2014 at 11:14 pm
Thank you very much Emilio! Appreciate that!
October 3, 2014 at 7:42 am
Reblogged this on PATCO Blog It All… and commented:
Nice presentation of photos.
October 2, 2014 at 11:53 pm
Thank you Bob!
October 3, 2014 at 3:44 pm
Another great series (and congratulations). This is a great divergence from your other work I admire ~ absolutely fabulous.
October 3, 2014 at 12:27 am
Thank you very much Randal. A derelict half demolished dockyard certainly presented a different set of challenges to a beautiful beach or headland. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of the project. :-)
October 3, 2014 at 3:46 pm
Very well done Adrian!
October 4, 2014 at 10:59 am
You should be so VERY proud Adrian – what a wonderful moment. Your work is beautiful and the emotion that went into it comes shining through. Of the many wonderful panels, my absolute favorites are the final shot and the building reflected in the puddle. Sincere congratulations to you!
October 3, 2014 at 12:41 am
Thank you so much Tina. That really means a lot! :-)
October 3, 2014 at 3:47 pm
This is very impressive, Adrian. Congratulations on your award. I can just imagine you sitting there, holding your breath. Your images are very poignant, and it’s obvious that your heart was really in this project. :)
October 3, 2014 at 1:03 am
Thank you very much Sylvia. The assessment was quite nerve wracking that’s for sure. Having the judges give an initial opinion, but unseen, and then the discussion and the comments. It is a tense moment while the chairman looks across to the judges, asks for another vote and counts up the reds and the greens. Worth it all when it’s a positive result and even if it isn’t, the RPS give a lot of feedback to candidates so it’s always a learning experience and therefore a positive one I think even if panelists don’t get the result they are hoping for. I’m glad you enjoyed the images.
October 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm
October 3, 2014 at 3:09 am
Thank you Sedge!
October 3, 2014 at 3:53 pm
Wow that is an honour and well deserved with these great images. Congratulations Adrian.
October 3, 2014 at 4:08 am
Thank you so much Edith. I feel very honoured and happy that the project had such a special outcome.
October 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm
These are wicked!
October 3, 2014 at 5:16 am
Thank you Rob!
October 3, 2014 at 3:54 pm
Congratulations Adrian! A stunning set of images of beautiful clarity and the whole exudes a palpable sense of loss….
October 3, 2014 at 6:44 am
Thank you so much Sue. The closure of the docks and the job losses was a real loss to the community and I really wanted to get that across in the pictures. There is always something so very sad about sites that have been so busy and full of people working, earning a living, a real community in itself.
October 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm
Amazing series and congrats, love them all!
October 3, 2014 at 6:48 am
Thank you very much Ron. I really appreciate that.
October 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm
Congratulations! What wonderful textures and patterns you have captured.
October 3, 2014 at 7:57 am
Thank you so much Anna. I was so taken with the colours, reflections, textures and patterns that you’ve picked up on. These old industrial sites offer so much to the photographer. There’s beauty there amidst the dereliction and decay.
October 3, 2014 at 4:00 pm
Many congratulations Adrian! I am putting together a panel for my LRPS submission, and I have an insight into the very demanding standard required for the ARPS. … What’s next? You could try for FRPS :-)
October 3, 2014 at 9:34 am
Thank you Rhys. It has been quite a journey and even a few days before the presentation, I was questioning the inclusion of this photo or that one. I wish you the very best of luck with your assessment. Have you attended an advisory day? I can’t recommend attending one of these highly enough, if you haven’t. Have you booked a date?
The FRPS is a whole other level of course but I guess it’ll be at the back of my mind when I’m taking photos from now on which can only be a good thing. The distinctions certainly push you in the best way possible I think.
October 3, 2014 at 4:08 pm
I have my assessment on 23 October. I didn’t do an “official” advisory day but I did attend an unofficial two day workshop organised by Beacon camera club (near Malvern). We had a small group of participants and a team of three FRPSs who have been on assessment boards in the past. Also, I am this year’s president of Solihull photographic society and Anne S is one of our members. She has also given me some advice.
October 4, 2014 at 6:43 am
The very best of luck Rhys. It sounds like you have all your bases covered. Anne is brilliant and with all the other advice, I don’t think you can go wrong! :-)
October 4, 2014 at 8:19 am
Congratulations! An amazing portfolio of work and social history archive for future generations. When are you having an exhibition?!
October 3, 2014 at 12:05 pm
Thank you Patsy. I’m glad to have completed the project. Perhaps the site will have a new life if the planned marina every gets its planning approved. There is a lot of local opposition to the redevelopment. That might be a whole other project should it ever come about. I hadn’t thought about an exhibition. Perhaps I could hold one locally. Something I’ll give some thought to. Thank you again. :-)
October 3, 2014 at 4:13 pm
Stunning images! Evocative for me of our ghost towns in the west here, so you certainly achieved your objective in that respect. Many, many congratulations!
October 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm
Thank you ever so much Vivan. I would love the opportunity to photograph some of those ghost towns one day! :-)
October 3, 2014 at 6:23 pm
Congrats – a great set of images.
October 4, 2014 at 11:09 am
Thank you Gerard! :-)
October 4, 2014 at 4:19 pm
Many congratulations, Adrian, and very well deserved. It’s a very coherent panel. Things are so different from when I applied and was awarded my ARPS way back in about 1981. In those days success was as much about the quality of the printing as the content of the images. There was no mention of style in those days; in fact applicants were advised to show two or three varieties of work. It was about competence. The bar has been raised very substantially, reflecting the fact that competent photography is now almost a ‘given’. It’s now all about the having a ‘good eye’. One of these days I’m confident you will get the ‘F’. For me, I have decided I want to work towards an ‘F’ in the digital era. The ‘F’ I got back in 1983 (for a documentary panel) feels more of a burden than an award these days – things have moved on so far in the interim. It’s good to have a challenge and an aim. It concentrates the mind.
October 4, 2014 at 11:24 am
Thank you very much Andy. A challenge and an aim certainly does concentrate the mind and I think working towards an F is definitely a challenge and a worthy aim. I’m sure it will be at the back of my mind in all photographs I take from now on and that can’t be a bad thing. When I hit on the idea, the project, the passion beyond the photography itself, the photographs will follow and who knows, perhaps yes, one of these days I may get the F. I think it’s great that you want to work towards another F. I’m sure many would be happy to sit back on their laurels. I admire you decision. It’s a challenging process that’s for sure.
October 4, 2014 at 4:19 pm
Congratulations! What a wonderful set of photos showing an important part of Par’s history. I think it’s an original and interesting panel – well done!
October 4, 2014 at 8:55 pm
Thank you Alison! I really appreciate your comment and your thoughts! :-)
October 5, 2014 at 7:35 am
My heartfelt congratulations Adrian. I know from many decades working in this field how developing a project around a coherent theme and capturing a complete set of great images that convey that theme is not always easy and you have done an absolutely brilliant job. You have a great eye for composition and what is refreshing is to see that you have developed a personal style that is unique. May great light follow you everywhere in the days/years ahead. ~ Rick
October 4, 2014 at 9:49 pm
Thank you very much Rick. Coming from you that is a great compliment and I’m very grateful to you.
October 5, 2014 at 9:24 am
A well deserved honor. Warm Congratulations!
October 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm
Thank you so much Elena! :-)
October 5, 2014 at 5:51 pm
Congratulations! I wondered why you were so ‘quiet’ :)
October 6, 2014 at 9:30 am
Thank you Noeline. I guess the project and preparation for the associate has kept me rather occupied. :-)
October 6, 2014 at 5:27 pm
It is such a sad story, but really strong photos. And with a history with similar development all over the world. So exciting to see this kind of new work from you, Adrian. And CONGRATULATIONS, well deserved!
October 6, 2014 at 11:16 am
Thank you so much Bente. I’ve enjoyed the divergence and will continue to explore new photographic avenues. :-)
October 6, 2014 at 5:28 pm
A fascinating and beautiful series of photos, Adrian. Superb detail and colour, a wonderful subject to photograph. Congratulations.
October 6, 2014 at 7:45 pm
Thank you very much Simon. It was an enjoyable project to work on. Nice to do something quite different.
October 6, 2014 at 8:15 pm
Thank you very much!
October 7, 2014 at 9:00 am
Congratulations, Adrian. Well done. A superb set of photos. I love the subject, composition and the excellent post processing. I presume you used your 14-24 lens for many of the images. Maybe you could do a post on one of the images, explaining how you captured and processed it?
October 8, 2014 at 11:07 am
Hello Malcolm, Thank you very much. I did indeed use the 14-24mm a fair bit on this project. Your idea of a post is an interesting one.. I’ll give that some thought. :-)
October 8, 2014 at 12:25 pm
October 8, 2014 at 4:15 pm
Thank you very much Stephen! :-)
October 8, 2014 at 5:44 pm
Definitely no mean feat, judging from all those I know who have attempted it. F up next then!
October 9, 2014 at 11:30 am
I’m going to be taking pictures just for the love of taking pictures for a good while Stephen. The A was a huge leap from the L and the F is an even bigger leap again.
October 9, 2014 at 3:12 pm
I suspect there will be a drastic drop in the number of photographs you take – though you may take as many snaps! ;)
October 9, 2014 at 3:26 pm
I rather think it’s the love of taking photographs that produces the ‘photographs’ besides of course, I don’t think there’ll be a single picture I take where the next step up won’t be at the back of my mind. That’s why I believe the RPS distinctions are so good for one’s photography.. :-)
October 9, 2014 at 5:58 pm
I wouldn’t disagree with that.
October 10, 2014 at 2:22 pm
So well deserved, Adrian. Congratulations. You created a beautiful series from decay and abandonment. Gorgeous images.
October 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm
Thank you Lynne. Much appreciated! :-)
October 10, 2014 at 3:14 pm
A sad story, well told. Congratulations on your achievement.
October 11, 2014 at 11:39 pm
Thank you very much Bunty!
October 15, 2014 at 6:53 pm
Right I am going to have to swear here! You have moved on to Associate status and I have still not got my act together to do step one. Congratulations rather interesting project as they are based around one subject – I am happy I am making progress though a couple of seconds at the Camera club and now earning my living from photography – but I will get my act together – you are urging me on… well done again.
October 13, 2014 at 11:18 am
Thank you very much Scott! Much appreciated. I have no doubt you will get your distinctions. It’s an exacting process so I’d recommend attending advisory days for Licentiate and Associate. Once you know the criteria and how you are to be judged, you can work towards fulfilling the requirements and putting the ticks in the boxes. Those letters after your name will follow and will not do your business any harm whatsoever. I look forward to congratulating you.
October 15, 2014 at 7:06 pm
I think it’s a really well done project, coherent and with a strong personal and expressive statement. And visually it’s beautiful although the story itself is sad. And, yes, it’s quite different from your normal kind of photography, isn’t it! Must be an encouragement to keep getting out of the comfort zone! As for the panel presentation I certainly can understand it was a tense moment. But congratulations with passing the test.
October 13, 2014 at 8:55 pm
Thank you very much Otto. It has definitely spurred me on to start thinking a little more conceptually perhaps. :-)
October 15, 2014 at 7:07 pm
Adrian, this project is a wonderful one! Your connection with the ‘place’ makes it even more significant, I think. The monochromatic texture and ’emptiness’ in each gorgeous photograph tells stories.
October 16, 2014 at 12:31 am
Thank you very much Karen. It was a really rewarding project and there’s no doubt that the more we engage with a subject, the better the photographs are generally I think. It’s certainly a lesson I learned from this exercise.
October 16, 2014 at 9:42 am
I somehow missed saying congratulations, Adrian. Caught up in the images, I think.
Your work is absolutely deserving of such an honour. Congratulations!
October 16, 2014 at 1:17 pm
Aww, thank you Karen. I really appreciate you coming back to add that. Being caught up in the images is good. I’m in the process of thinking about an exhibition and a photo book to go along with it.. In the early planning stages. :-)
October 16, 2014 at 8:47 pm
These photos work so well on so many levels – together, they make a great story, but each one is so well thought out and composed. That’s why it makes such a distinctive statement – you put so much care into it. Congratulations, absolutely well deserved.
October 19, 2014 at 2:04 am
Thank you so much Lynn! It was quite a journey, outside of my comfort zone, that I enjoyed very much.
October 21, 2014 at 4:01 pm
Well done. Great work. Congratulations you deserve it !
October 21, 2014 at 3:10 pm
Thank you ever so much Lou!:)
October 21, 2014 at 4:02 pm
Congratulations Adrian. This is a superb panel, of which you are right to be proud. I’m sure that you will not rest on your laurels after achiving ARPS. I only wish that I had the ability and commitment to even contemplate going for LRPS. Too old I think!
October 22, 2014 at 8:28 am
Thank you very much Dave. You really don’t know until you try is my motto. Why not attend an LRPS advisory day? Maybe organise an RPS distinctions night at your camera club? See if you can attract a speacker or two to talk about the whole distinctions process. If you attend an advisory day, you don’t have to take a panel along although I’d urge you to if you did. You might surprise yourself, oh and I don’t believe you’re ever too old to take great pictures. If you can hold a camera, or even if you can’t and you get someone else to hold it for you, there’s potential for a great photo.. ;-)
October 22, 2014 at 4:57 pm
Wow! I’m impressed. It’s not easy to step out of your comfort zone (I’ve been struggling with doing the same thing recently). Theses are wonderful images. They tell the story quite well I think. Congratulations on your appointment.
October 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm
Thank you very much Jim. Very much appreciated! It was difficult taking on this challenge but it was all the more rewarding because if was so different to the sort of photography I usually do.
October 23, 2014 at 7:58 pm
Congratulations on your achievement. I shall come back and study the images more carefully later on.
October 27, 2014 at 3:20 pm
Thank you very much Bill! :)
October 27, 2014 at 7:56 pm