Becoming a member of the British Institute of Professional Photography (BIPP)

This is a blog about my journey to becoming a BIPP member and gaining my first qualification with the institute.

In September 2014 I contacted Kevin Wilson to seek his guidance in a mentorship program. Kevin is widely acclaimed as one of Europe’s leading wedding and portrait photographers. He has the rare distinction of Fellowship in all three major photographic bodies. Within a couple of weeks of making contact I met Kevin at his beautiful idyllic cottage near Dorchester and my work to date was critiqued. I soaked up so much information that day my note pad was full. The next few weeks and months I set about applying the foundations. 2015 was a busy year for me and included my own wedding to Holly. Shortly after our honeymoon I met with Kevin and the 2nd phase of my mentorship program began. I could see my technique already vastly improving but still knew I was just over the starting line. Expanding your knowledge and expertise in photography is a continuous  journey with a beginning and no end.

I made the decision to join the British Institute of Professional Photography as a provisional member and work towards my licentiate qualification.

The qualifications levels are as follows with three tiers of achievement

Licentiate (LBIPP) The entry-level qualification for professional photographers. They must be adequately insured and earning income from their images. Their work should be commissioned, or be available for sale. All of the technical abilities that would be expected of a professional photographer are assessed. They must show professional competency within their images. This was to be my first goal to work towards between 2015 and 2016.

Associate (ABIPP) Often the most difficult qualification to achieve; Associateship includes all of the competencies of the Licentiate, but with additional creativity, knowledge and experience. These photographers are often in busy, successful companies and it can be hard to find the time to reach this level of achievement.

Fellow (FBIPP) Often recognised as one of the highest vocational qualifications within the profession. Fellowship of the Institute is an outstanding achievement. A unique style and a discerning quality are expected. The work is often presented as a standalone project, rather than a mix of commissioned images.

As part of my journey in working towards my Licentiate panel I found myself applying knowledge taught and creating some exciting imagery. This was achieved using natural light and artistic composition. I decided to enter some of my work into the 2016 BIPP Awards and was delighted to receive an Award in February 2016 which I blogged about previously here.

Throughout August to October 2016 I worked hard at putting together all my supporting evidence that is required to submit for the LBIPP. This not only includes images but also information about the following –

  •   Development goals
  •   A Health & Safety Policy and Risk assessments
  •   An outline of my administration and productions systems
  •   Information on images contained within the portfolio
  •   Marketing and website details

The above was all published in books, which were available to the BIPP Fellowship judges before I went for my assessment. On Wednesday 23rd November 2016 I travelled to BIPP head office in Aylesbury. I took with me my leather bound portfolio of A3 images. These were all professionally printed on Hahnemuhle paper by Paul Williams based in Dorset .

I was introduced by Chris Harper FBIPP (BIPP Chief Executive) to the other judges. I was duly informed my portfolio and supporting evidence was presented to a high standard.  This followed by an unexpected announcement that my panel submission had met the Licentiate qualification but also was deemed to be escalated up to an Associate qualification. I was delighted to hear this news. I was also told it is rare these days for this to happen. My images were discussed one by one and the feedback from all the judges was truly constructive. All their comments have given me a clear direction on how to move forward with my photography in the future.

On my drive home I had time to reflect on this experience I had just been through. I concluded that if you want to succeed then you need to source the correct ingredients. I researched and sourced one of the top if not the best mentor and master in the craft of photography. I listened diligently and applied the guidance taught. My journey in the genre of Professional Wedding Photography is now taking off and I can move forward in the coming years and look to improve my work and seek new challenges. The above gallery is a selection from my panel of images presented on the assessment date. I wish to express my gratitude to Kevin Wilson and all the judges and team at the BIPP for being so supportive.