The road to an Associateship with the RPS

Generally speaking I am an ambitious kind of person. I get fixed on a goal and rarely do I fail. Undertaking the journey to gain my ARPS started by gaining my LRPS. So many of the lessons from that process formed the foundation for my ARPS.

In June 2014, I took a trip to Uganda to photograph the work of my sister-in-law’s charity, Soft Power Education. It was the most challenging photographic project I had undertaken for a variety of reasons; location, weather conditions and time constraints but a few.

When planning the trip I had already decided that if the images I captured were good enough I’d put together a panel for an ARPS. I would be submitting an applied panel as the trip was to document the work and people of the charity.

You can read more about my trip on the blog here, or in my book here.

After the trip and with my photos backed up and the book created, planning on my panel began. At this point I was already really familiar with the material I had to work with. My first task was to decide the content of my panel. I’d had a fruitful trip capturing many facets of the charity’s work. Should I create a narrative showing the problems the charity faces? The work they are doing to solve those problems? Or maybe their work in rural communities? I decided that I wanted a panel that represented everything the charity does. The answer was simple. The people. The human element is what connects every aspect the charity.

My next task was to pull together a selection of images that represented the diverse group of people involved with and support the charity. Then I discarded those that, although may have been good images, might let down the panel on technical merit, blow highlights, soft focus etc.

Over the next few months (yes months), I experimented with different arrangements and tried different crops of the images to see what did and didn’t work.

With a selection of images I felt worked, I proofed them at the size I wanted to present to make sure they were up to the required standard. This is a really important step. I don’t believe you can really judge how an image will print only looking at it digitally. Onscreen you are looking at tiny dots of projected light. A good quality print is physical, at your chosen size and on the substrate of your choosing. Adding a character to the image that you don’t get onscreen.

With my images proofed, I was confident to go and start getting second opinions. I started by talking through my work with a fellow member of the RPS Documentary group.

The RPS online advisory service was my next step. This provided me with some really valuable feedback that lead me to change 30-40% of my panel. With hindsight, I felt some of this feedback was very subjective, so I became wary of relying too heavily on it. An Associateship review panel is made up of 5 people, so a single point of view would not cut it.

Now I’m not a (good) gambler. If I do place a bet it rarely comes in. I like sure things, further feedback was defiantly necessary! So I contacted a Fellow of the RPS that had helped me on my LRPS. He kindly looked through my work, the online feedback and then gave me some very helpful pointers. Nothing too drastic, this time I only changed 3 images in the main panel, and found a couple of new spares. I was now ready to attend an Advisory day.

Firstly, I needed to print and mount my images. I chose to commercially print them, using a company I’d used in the past, The Print Space, located in Shoreditch, London. I chose C-Type prints,  real photographic prints as opposed to giclee (inkjet) prints, on semi gloss paper. I had already had a couple of test prints done, so I was sure of the quality and consistency, a really important point, because I was likely to need a few reprints after the advisory day. Commercial printing is not the cheapest option, but quality is paramount, and I wasn’t willing to compromise. Mounts from Cotswold Mounts combined with excellent prints, I was confident I had at least a couple of the required boxes ticked!

There is much debate over the size of prints to present for an ARPS. I chose to print 10″x15″. Reasonably large. My final decision to present at this size was all the images were sharp and the required quality. End of discussion.

Applied is a popular category as it covers so many genres of photography and I was struggling to secure a date to attend an advisory day. By the good graces of the Southern Regions organiser, I managed to get a place on their Applied advisory day in January 2016.

On the day I was rather nervous. Having spent many hours labouring over this panel, I was finally presenting prints to a group of people that would share their opinions on my work. Including the Applied panel Chairperson, Vanessa Slawson FRPS.  

As it turned out my hard work had paid off. My images we well received. We tried swapping out some images with my spares or changing position to see if the panel layout could be improved. A couple of minor technical error were highlighted and a change of crop on one image was suggested. I was over the moon. The most significant piece of feedback suggested for my Associate submission was not to my images. It was to my statement of intent. Although only a short 150 word statement, it’s a powerful and important part of the submission. It defines the context of the images being presented. The proposed adjustment to my statement lead me to rewrite it 6 times prior to my final assessment, but getting it right made all the difference.  

The advisory day also allowed me to meet with other members of the RPS and discuss all manner of things photographic, making my long journey really worth it.  

My assessment was a little over two months away, so I could take my time to make the suggested changes and re-write my statement of intent. After reprinting and mounting I checked all my images very closely against the Distinctions handbook and that was that. I was ready to present.

Assessment day arrived and I had a 3 hour drive to RPS HQ, Fenton House in Bath. I set out with plenty of time to spare, hating to be late. However, the M25 and M4 put a spanner in the works, and thanks to various traffic problems and weather conditions I arrived well over an hour late.

Sitting nervously waiting for my panel to be presented, I watched as two panels were presented and neither being recommended. The gentleman to my right informed me no one had be recommended so far. This didn’t inspire confidence!

Then it happened, I saw my images going up one by one. Each placed on the rails as per my hanging plan. So far so good! Then the deputy chair read out my statement of intent, but it didn’t sound like my words, they were all wrong! ‘Sorry’ he announced, ‘wrong one’! Oh thank goodness! I thought I’d put the wrong printouts in my folio box but all was fine. As my correct statement was read out, five eagle eye’d panel members intently scrutinised my work from their seats, then one by one they rose up and moved in. Each picking up my images and closely inspecting them. From the back of the room I watched, rigid in my seat, unknowing of the thoughts running through their minds. One by one, having inspected each and every image, they took their seats.

Vanessa Slawson, the panel chair, then asked for an initial vote then for one of the panellists to share his comments. Instant delight filled me as he highlighted the images he liked and some very positive comments on the overall panel. The thought ran through my mind “I’ve done it”. Then Vanessa asked a second person to speak, and again more positive comments. I though again, “Seriously. I have done it”! Then came the counter opinions from the third panellist who wasn’t so enthusiastic. Questioning why I had or had not done certain apparently obvious adjustments when taking my photos. “He should have moved that out of shot”, and “if he’d moved this girls head or changed the position of her are…”. Doubt now filled my mind.

A fourth opinion joined the debate and this is when I believe my statement of intent made all the difference. The panel member pointed out that my panel was a documentary, photographing real people as life happened. “Thank you” I thought. He pointed out that interfering with the people and the elements in frame wasn’t always possible or right to do so. I had been working in schools and you can’t direct children during their lessons! The key words in my statement were ‘document’ and ‘their environment’.

It was at this point Vanessa asked to continue the discussion out of the room. Nothing unusual, it had already happen a couple of times today. After the door was shut behind them, people started to talk quietly talk about my images, I was still rigid in my seat. The wait seemed endless. After about 10 minutes they returned. A final vote was taken and then Vanessa announced “I’m please to say this panel has been recommended…”

Relief.

The hard work, constantly questioning my images, all the advice, checking, checking and rechecking every detail had paid off.

I work in advertising and the agency I work for has number of different mantras.  My personal favourite is “Difficult is worth doing”.

It certainly is!

Below are my images and the hanging plan.

I took these images to support Soft Power Education, please take a minute to visit their website here. And read about my trip to Uganda on the project blog here.

Jhy Turley ARPS Hanging Plan

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The art of fine porcelain ceramics

A few weeks ago, on a foggy February morning I took a drive out to the Kent coastal town of Faversham. Creek Creative part of the towns old brewery building is now home to a collection of artists, designer makers and highly skilled crafts people. My visit was to photograph two of the people that reside in this hotbed of creativity; Rose Dickinson, a ceramic artist and Alex Law, an upholsterer that also designs and prints his own fabrics.

In this post I want share my images of Rose and her work.

Before Christmas I visited Rose to discuss my project documenting designer makers and their work, so I already knew exactly what her studio and workspace was like. Happily by the time I arrived and I started photographing, the mornings fog had lifted and warm sunlight filled her workspace.

Rose’s studio is overflowing with the materials she collects and her work in various stages of completion. I am instantly drawn to what I believe is a piece of art hanging on one of her walls. It looks like a sculpture formed from various items, all kinds of textures and colours from nature. It turns out to be a collection of the things that Rose uses to create and inspire her delicately detailed ceramics. In her own words “you just can’t beat nature!”

Rose’s work is inspired by nature from around the Kentish countryside and marshes near where she lives. Unfortunately I don’t get to see the beginning stages of her creative journey, when she uses natures textures she has found to imprint pieces made from fine porcelain clay. A fresh batch of work is ready to come out of the kiln and after carefully unpacking it, she adds subtle colourful details to each piece before glazing and finally firing again.

Like all the artists and creators I have been visiting, they make what they do appear almost effortless. Piece by piece Rose applies and removes colour, but it is clear by the way she handles her work, this effortlessness is born of years of practice. Once again it’s a wonderful inspiration to see someone’s lifetime of experience coming together as they create something new.

You can see more images from my visit to Rose’s studio on my website here , and more of Rose’s work here

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Thank you for reading this post about Rose and her work, I hope you enjoyed it. It is part of a larger project to document and celebrate designer makers and their work.

Bold & Colourful Textile Artist

My second visit to document the work of a crafts person takes me to Denmark Hill in South East London and down a rather unassuming alley next to a pub. Behind the gates, past the landlords mass pile of junk and up the stairs of an old and dilapidated warehouse, lies the studio of textile artist Michelle House. Her work combines striking bold and colourful shapes overlaid with abstract photographic images. With careful planning, meticulous mathematical precision and skill that is only achieved from years of practice, she pieces each intricate part of her designs together as screen prints. She creates them all by hand, no mechanical clamps or modern screen printing benches. Each piece is unique. The prints are then either stretched over a frame or the edges are hand stitched to create a wall hanging.

Michelle studied at Goldsmiths College before starting on a full time career as an artist. She has exhibited all over the world, at numerous shows including Collect at the Saatchi Gallery.

I spent the day with Michelle as she was starting to prepare and print three new pieces for an up coming show. Her work can take weeks to complete, depending on the size and complexity. So I will have to return to see how these pieces progress.

One of the reasons I started this project was because of my own experiences at art college and how I had dabbled with all manors of process and techniques for creating art. Observing Michelle as she prepared her canvas and built her designs up, I was taken back to my college days remembering that satisfying feeling as an idea slowly emerged into a fully realised piece of art, very loosely speaking when referring to my college attempts!

I feel very lucky to have been able to gain an insight into how Michelle creates her work. Below are a few images from the day.

Take a look at her website here, and mine; jhyturley.com for more images from the day.

Enjoy.

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Turning used coffee into striking Jewllery

Tucked away near London Fields, in a small hand built garden workshop, Rosalie McMillan is designing and making some surprising and strikingly unique jewellery. Her raw material of choice, coffee. Recycled and repurposed, used coffee grounds are transformed and set with silver or gold into exquisite asymmetrical bold jewellery. A long held passion for designing and making has now become a new career. I recently visited Rosalie in her workshop as she created a new and exciting piece for her current collection. She took me through her process of creation (well less a process and more a journey of discovery) as she masterfully transformed a rough brown block of the raw coffee material and a few pieces of silver.

Here are a few images that I hope do justice to her hard work and creativity.


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If you would like to see more images from my shoot with Rosalie please visit my website

My top 5 Ted Talks from photographers

In no particular order!

I’ve watched these countless times. They are by inspiring people telling powerful stories.

I hope you find them the same.

http://www.ted.com/talks/giles_duley_when_a_reporter_becomes_the_story

Silence in the Square

Every year, we as a nation remember those who have fallen defending our way of life. At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, a Two Minute Silence is observed on Armistice Day, the day which marks the end of the First World War.

This year The Royal British Legion asked members of the Royal Photographic Society to go along and document the hard work of their collectors. The people who put in the hours around central London, collecting funds for the Poppy Appeal; helping the current and ex-serving personnel in terms of their welfare, comradeship, representation and remembrance.

I went along to Trafalgar Square in London for Silence in the Square, a morning of music and readings that preceded the 2 minute silence at 11am.

Below are a few of the portraits I captured of the veterans, volunteers, collectors and general public, plus a few moments that caught my eye.

Please have a look at my website for more shots from the morning here:

Silence in the Square Portraits
Silence in the Square Moments

For me, the most rewarding part of the experience was meeting so many wonderful people, hearing their experiences and how important the work of The Royal British Legion is to them. Find out more about the their work and the charity here.

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The Making of Mickey Mouse Emojis

Way back in May I arranged to meet my good friend Mark Petty and spend the day with him as he worked on a new screen print.

I arrived at a small industrial unit in Peckham Rye, South East London, a little early. The Sonsoles Print Studio is a where Mark creates his art.

Mark arrives, coffee in hand for us both, a good start the day.

I know Mark from our school and college days, both studying graphic design, both working in the advertising industry. But when it come to our personal work we are on separate paths. Apart for now, when my photography will document his art.

My aim for the day was a simple one, document the skill and craft it takes to create a beautiful piece of art.

This is to be the first in a series that will explore and record the Art of Craft, that I hope will come together in a celebration of arty and crafty people.

Anyway, thats enough of my waffling, here is the story of the making of Mickey Mouse Emojis

To see the full set of images please visit my website.

If you have a wall that needs a stunning piece of art visit Mark’s website.

And if you want to screen print your own masterpiece get down to Sonsoles Print Studio.