Advice for distinction applicants
Applying for an IPF distinction requires an investment in time, effort and cost. Conscious of this, the IPF advises applicants for any level of distinction to consult with at least one distinctions assessor who is familiar with what is required for a successful panel when putting a set of prints together for assessment.
Assistance with a panel is best done with the guidance of someone who has recent experience of putting together a successful panel, often a fellow club member. The assistance of a current distinctions assessor should prove to be best advice of all but the applicant needs to be aware that the person giving this advice is precluded from assessing the panel later, and would in any case have been just one opinion among at least seven at the assessment session.
At any distinctions session, assessors examine all panels on the basis that the assessors do not know the identity of the author. Often, one or more members of the assessing panel do know the identity of the author, perhaps because it is from a fellow club member. In that instance they do not vote on the panel but will go through the motions of examining it so that the other assessors are not aware of their connection to the panel being assessed.
When such a panel comes up for examination the Distinctions Secretary discretely tells the relevant assessor that he/she will not be voting. Assessors usually know this already, but it can happen that an assessor has advised someone who does not have a club connection whereupon that assessor will discretely indicate to the Distinctions Secretary that he/she will not be voting.
Organised advice sessions
The IPF does not currently itself run advice sessions, but where a region or club organises such a session, and if the IPF are satisfied that the advice offered will be by persons who may be considered to have the necessary expertise to give good guidance, the IPF may endorse that advice session subject to the following criteria:
- The advisors at the session will not ultimately assess any panel that they believe is substantially ready for assessment. (This includes panels that are not deemed complete but will subsequently have been added to by the author.)
- The organisers of the advice session must supply the Distinctions Secretary with lists of both the authors and the advisors at the session.
- In the same way that the Distinctions Secretary notes an applicant’s club so as to be able to indicate to an assessor that he/she will not be voting on a panel, the author-advisor link in this instance will be similarly noted, to the same end.
- Where a Region organises an advice session it must similarly supply the Distinctions Secretary with lists of authors and advisors, to the same end.
Note: The assessors for all assessment sessions are chosen by the Chair and Deputy Chair of Distinction, not the Distinctions Secretary.
Applications for assessment in specific subjects
As far as practicality allows, when distinction panels are presented for assessment in specific subjects the IPF endeavours to provide assessors with expertise or familiarity in those subjects to assess the panels. Notwithstanding this, the assessors must primarily be qualified to assess photography at the level involved. All assessors are Fellowship holders..
Generally, with at least seven Fellowship-qualified assessors present at any assessment session, there will be sufficient expertise available to assess most panels put before the assessors. The Chair and Deputy Chair of Distinctions will have seen a list of subjects to be assessed (but not the identities of their authors) well in advance of the session and will have chosen the assessing team to accommodate those subjects.
Any assessment session will feature a wide variety of subjects, but the Chair and Deputy Chair will endeavour to have at least three assessors present with expertise in any subject.
When a subject is being assessed the Chair will firstly ask the assessors with expertise in the subject to indicate whether that subject is suitably portrayed to the required standard. The remaining assessors will thus be guided as to the subject accuracy but will form independent opinions as to whether the panel is photographically at the required level, e.g. Fellowship standard.
Applicants in any subject should bear in mind that the primary focus of the assessors is concerned with determining whether a panel has reached the photographic level required, i.e. whether it is of Associateship or Fellowship level.