FBPE Fellowship Awarded by The British Photographic Exhibitions

Fellowship FBPE Distinction Award
I have today been informed that my application for Fellowship (FBPE) with The British Photography Exhibitions (BPE) has been accepted, approved and the award made.

This is the culmination of just over 3 years exhibition work at national level, and in the 15 years between 1998 and 2013, only 18 people had ever received this award.

The Fellowship can be applied for by holders of Associateship (ABPE) with The Photographic Exhibitions, that gain a further 100 acceptances of work into a member exhibition, and a minimum of 30 awards, of which at least 15 pieces of work must not have previously been awarded.

About The BPE
The scheme was originally devised in 1997 to encourage UK photographers to enter national exhibitions, and reward them with awards depending on the tier of acceptances and awards achieved.

The BPE offer premier awards known as Associateship of British Photographic Exhibitions, ABPE, and Fellowship of British Photographic Exhibitions, FBPE.  These awards are designed to indicate consistent achievement of the highest standard over a substantial period of time. There are currently 22 member exhibitions, holding exhibitions each year.

The awards path are scheduled below, and with each piece of work accepted into a national exhibition, a point as earned. Exhibitors are invited to aggregate their acceptances in the affiliated exhibitions and, upon reaching the accepted aggregate, to apply for a Crown Rating Award.

BPE1 Crown Award - 25 points

BPE2 Crown Award - 50 points 
BPE3 Crown Award - 100 points 
BPE4 Crown Award - 200 points 
BPE5 Crown Award - 300 points 

Those who already hold a BPE5* award may apply for an Associateship when they have achieved the following since gaining the BPE5*:
 A further 100 acceptances in member exhibitions and 20 awards using at least 10 different pieces of work.

Those who already hold an ABPE may apply for a Fellowship when they have achieved the following since gaining the Associateship
A further 100 acceptances in member exhibitions and 30 awards since gaining the ABPE using at least 15 different pieces of work which have not been previously awarded.

My journey with The BPE started in February 2012. I had received a critique on a picture following a local club competition that was being judged by Christine Widdall. (Chris is a nationally and internationally acclaimed photography judge, and highly successful exhibitor in her own right). Following this encouragement from Chris I entered my very first work into The Vale of Evesham National Exhibition, where I had 8 pieces of work accepted and won an award for a self portrait I had made. 

The Vale of Evesham Exhibiton was judged by 3 judges, 2 of which lived fairly local to me, although we had never met or had any contact. After a few exchanges of emails I met with Gwen and Phil Charnock, and they very kindly looked through my work and offered critique and a lot of encouragement. Gwen and Phil are both national and international recognised judges, and their work is known world wide, and both are hugely succesful exhibitors and photographers in their own right.

So I was now ready to set the national photography exhibition world on fire, well not quite. Along the way there have been highs and lows. But it was a journey worth taking as the hard work involved and experience gained has given so much back, in terms of personal development and friendships made, which I could not have got from anywhere else.

Exhibition work is sometimes brutal, if you want people to say how great your work is and how wonderful you are as a photographer, sites like Facebook, Flickr etc are the place to post. But if you want straight honest opinions on your work by highly experienced and regarded photography judges, you will certainly receive that in exhibition work. Not in a critique form, but by way of acceptance and awards on your work. Its often a hard route to take, but one as I mentioned earlier is worthwhile if you are serious about your competition and exhibiton photography. 

BPE1* Crown Award - June 2012
Four months after first entering a national exhibition, In June 2012, I received the first award on the trail, a BPE1* Crown Award. This came from having 25 acceptances into National Member Exhibitions. I also received 6 awards along the way to BPE1*.
BPE2* Crown Award - November 2012
In November 2012 I received the second tier award, BPE2* Award, for having 50 acceptances into National Member Exhibitions, and also picked up 17 award including 'Best in Exhibition', my first Gold Medals, Silver Medals, Bronze Medals and Judges Awards.
BPE3* Crown Award - March 2013
The 17th March was the day I was awarded the third tier of award along the way, BPE3*. For this award I needed to have had 100 acceptances into National Member Exhibitions. I also by this time had received 26 awards.
BPE4* Crown Award - October 2013
I was awarded the fourth tier of award along the way, BPE4* in October 2013. For this award I needed to have had 200 acceptances into National Member Exhibitions. This extra 100 acceptances was quite a task to reach the BPE4*. I also by this time had received 41 awards.
BPE5* Crown Award - March 2014
Along came BPE5* Award in March 2014. For this award I needed to have had 300 acceptances into National Member Exhibitions. once again, gaining a further 100 acceptances since the BPE4* Award was no easy task, and took a fair bit of work as most of my catalogue of competition images and already been used gaining the earlier awards. My tally of awards had increased at this point to 64.

Associateship - October 2014
At this point in the proceedings, and to apply for Associateship (ABPE), I needed to gain 100 fresh acceptances from the time the BPE5* award was made, and gain 20 awards from at lease 10 pieces of work. I duly met the requirement by having 107 acceptances from 42 pieces of work, and also collected 30 Awards.
From my first acceptance into a BPE National Exhibition to Associateship, I have had 412 acceptances, using 118 different pieces of work, receiving 117 Awards along the way.
In the 15 years between 1998 and 2013, only 27 people had received this award, and little wonder, the award represents a significant amount of work of the highest standard over a considerable period of time.
Fellowship - June 2015
Fellowship is the absolute pinnacle, and highest award available from The BPE. In the 15 years between 1998 and 2013, only 18 people had received this award. From the offset of my journey through The BPE awards structure, my ambition and target continually changed. From being awarded Associateship (ABPE), I now needed to gain a further 100 acceptances before I could apply for Fellowship, but also needed 30 awards, with at least 15 awards being made to previously unawarded images. This is when your work is really tested, to get to the point of Associateship requires a large catalogue of images of the highest standard, to reach The Fellowship requirements, its pretty much new work from here on in.
The good news is that I actually had 142 acceptances into National Member Exhibitions since Associateship, and received 33 awards, of which 23 of the awards were for previously unawarded works. 
The total number or acceptances from my first acceptance in 2012 to applying for Fellowship is 554, with 150 works receiving awards. Some of the awarded pictures are featured below.

A huge thank you has to go out to The BPE itself, and in particular the awards officers Alison and Andy Fryer. They really are the unsung heroes that deal with all the award applications, and spend many hours checking and verifying applications prior to the awards being made. 

Its a bittersweet pill achieving FBPE, its the pinnacle of the distinction award available from The BPE and its great to receive it, but I'll miss the target of achieving the next award level. Although I will still be supporting the BPE exhibitions that have been good to me, especially the print exhibitions. 

Highlights from the journey:  
First acceptances and award in National Member Exhibition, Vale of Evesham in 2012.
First Medal, Great Barr 2012.
First Gold Medal, Dingwall 2012.
First Judges Awards, Bromsgrove 2012.
First Best in Exhibition Award, Guernsey 2012.
Most acceptances in a single exhibition, 26 accepted into Great Barr 2013.
Most awards in a single exhibition, 16 in Great Barr 2013.
First  Best in Exhibition with panels, Great Barr 2014.
First person to ever win The Great Barr Panels Exhibition with a print entry 2014.

100th Award, Great Barr 2014.
3 Best in Exhibition Awards
14 Gold Medals
13 Silver Medals
8 Bronze Medals
31 Judge Awards
7 Ribbons
77 Highly Commended, Commended, Certificates.