Associateship (ARPS)

Distinctions > ARPS

This is a gallery of the pictures from the Panel which I submitted to the Royal Photographic Society to gain my Associateship in 1999. They were taken on black and white film and I hand printed them all in the darkroom. The panel was entered into the Visual Art (Pictorial) category (now just called Visual Art), and was entitled “Architecture – By Design”.

I am illustrating the idea that buildings can be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. I have photographed examples of contemporary architecture, biased towards form and design, within an individual print and across the panel as a whole. Each subject is dominated by lines or curves which highlight the contours of its structure. The patterns, profiles and textures of each region attracted my attention, and influenced their final position within the panel. ARPS Panel statement of intent, 1999

The images were displayed in three rows of five for the assessment, as follows:

ARPS panel layout
ARPS panel layout

Here is part of an article about gaining my ARPS, which was published in the now-defunct Mono Magazine (a Creative Monochrome publication, which was run by Roger Maile). I’ve edited it slightly to bring it up to date, but the original was written in 2000.

Architecture – by design

August ’99. Gare de Lyon Saint-Exupéry, France. I’m  on a hunt for modern architecture to photograph and this venue is another great Santiago Calatrava creation. However, I’m not at my best this sunny afternoon. In fact, I’ve been nervy all day. Originally cloudy, now the sun is out and my mood has improved slowly. The reason for my agitation? I’m waiting for a phone call that will tell me the results of my ARPS panel assessment in Bath. The mobile phone is never far from view. Meanwhile, I am trying to keep busy photographing the TGV station – covering my back, and taking more architecture, just in case the news is bad. Calatrava excelled himself when he designed the Pteridactyl-like station. The light was superb, but the phone wasn’t ringing. It was a long afternoon…

In the mean time, what lead me to be at a French airport, not catching a plane, camera in hand? My photographic story really took off when I was given an SLR for my 21st Birthday. Prior to that, I had always been a keen “happy snapper”, but the SLR opened my eyes to fresh creative possibilities.

About 3 years later, during 1992, I joined my local Camera Club, with my then husband and mum-in-law. We were a dedicated family!  The club boasted one member with an LRPS, and at the time, I thought that this sort of achievement was way beyond my talents. However, I was soon taking and developing my own B&W prints, having been bitten by the mono bug. This, despite not having my own darkroom – developing was done in the kitchen and printing in friends’ darkrooms, and also at the RPS Durst darkroom in their old Headquarters in Bath, when time allowed.

In 1995, I gained my LRPS with a general subject panel of mono prints. I was soon followed by my husband who gained his “L” with slides, and Mum-in-law who achieved her “L” through the City & Guilds exemption scheme.

I have always been interested in modern architecture, and was particularly fascinated by the building designs of Santiago Calatrava, Lord Norman Foster, Sir Richard Rogers  and Frank O. Gehry. I began building up a portfolio of work which became “Architecture – by design”, and the basis for an ARPS submission. As I was trying to concentrate on form and line, I felt the pictures worked particularly well taken in monochrome.

I attended an RPS advisory day, which gave me  useful pointers and advice on the kind of standard required. The advisors were very keen on a couple of images, and from there, I had a good idea of what I had to live up to with the others.

Hundreds of pictures later, I had collected images from London, Toronto, Sheffield, Coventry and Paris, to name a few. I began arranging the panel of images to accentuate the curves, light and shade and texture. Some of the images were quite abstract, and their place in the panel’s overall scheme was almost as important as the images themselves.

Eventually, the submission date approached, and I took the plunge. I attended the assessment panel, which although very nerve-wracking, provided excellent feedback about my work. Be prepared for some honest comments! And be prepared for just having to sit and listen – you can’t answer back or explain your reasons for including an image: your work must speak for itself.

On this first occasion, I was a “near miss” – the panel said I had three or four pictures which weren’t quite up to scratch, but they were encouraging enough to say they thought I would gain the distinction given a bit more work.

Although I was obviously disappointed, I took my camera out again, this time with the express idea of finding replacements for specific images within the panel. It was a particularly productive trip  back to Paris which really completed my second submission. With hindsight, that weekend produced some of the panel’s strongest pictures.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the second assessment – which is where we came in.  (I had already booked a holiday in southern France before I found out the assessment date). So I asked Mum-in-law to go in my place and report back with the result. In a way, it was even worse not attending than being there in person! Eventually, the phone rang with the all-important news – I’d passed! I confess there was a rather nice bottle of French bubbly consumed later that evening to celebrate.

Caroline Mockett ARPS, 14th August 2000

Photography by Caroline Mockett ARPS