I'm running perilously close to taking the 2 full years to complete TAOP and I had planned for 18 months. I hoped to be on my second course by now. I'm learning a great deal from the course and don't want to sell myself short by not giving it my best but have spread myself a bit thin in terms of my photography time.
As a member of the RPS I am also working towards my LRPS and also as a member of St Andrews Photographic Society I am working on images for inclusion in competitions both internal and external. This year is the first time I have entered any external competitions and I have had some success with 2 images in particular :
Port Talbot International Salon 2011
Bebington Salon of Photography2011
Vale of Evesham Annual Exhibition 2012
Dingwall Open National Projected Image Exhibition 2011
Port Talbot International Salon 2011
Bebington Salon of Photography 2011 - Commended
Southport Open 65th Annual Exhibition 2012
Vale of Evesham national Exhibition 2012
and was awarded a Bronze Medal at the Scottish Photographic Federation club championship 2012.
On top of this I am also involved with some fellow photographer friends in the Pittenweem Arts Festival which has been running for 29 years and is a showcase of work from both Scottish and International artists in all art forms, sculpture, painting, photography etc. The festival is held in the very picturesque Fife village of Pittenweem at the end of July. www.pittenweemartsfestival.co.uk. They also run workshops and it was at one of these last year that I met the professional photographer David Graham and undertook a photography course with him and several others on "Documenting the festival". David Graham's work has been accepted for the Taylor Wessing Portrait Exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery in 2009 and 2010 and he established Changing Ideas Organisation which raises funds to "support and develop the use of photography in humanitarian campaigns." The website can be found here http://www.changingideas.org/ci/Home.aspx
Visitors to the Arts Festival come from far and wide to view the artists work and many are from overseas so the images I produce for this event are again totally different from my work relating to the OCA. Visitors want to buy "postcard" scenes from the area not a digital art image or street photography.
Now, I can hear a few comments like - "but a good photo is still a good photo". Yep, I agree but it won't sell at Pittenweem and I can't afford to print images that don't recoup the cost.
Recently a fellow student of the OCA made a comment relating to the Royal Photographic Society which particularly irked me. The comment went along the lines of - being a member meant you had to conform to "camera club style" photography and that the RPS presented itself as an exclusive club- "RPS bashing" I think I called it. I can only assume the individual has never been to see the RPS in action. The standard of photography is great. They encourage many of the things we are being taught about learning from past masters, developing your own style of photography, sharing and learning from peers and tutors with vast experience. Why does being a member of the RPS and also learning with the OCA and taking part in a local camera club have to be mutually exclusive?
If I hadn't been involved in Pittenweem Arts Festival I doubt I would have met David Graham and learnt from his photojournalism experience. If I hadn't been a member of the St Andrews Photographic Society I wouldn't have been inspired to enter National or International competitions which have boosted my confidence and allowed me to show a more creative side to my photography and if I hadn't started a course with the OCA I doubt I would have attended the Royal College of Arts degree show in London this year and viewed the work of Nadege Meriau who photographed bread in a whole new light. Literally.
My involvement in all of these things together is expanding my photographic learning and skills and surely that is a good thing. It may not suit everyone but it suits me.
Now. If only I could find another 5 hours in a day? !