14th February 2018

Bringing the IPF into disrepute.

Time and again I have had photographers contact me and ask a fairly straightforward question: “Do I have to go to Drogheda with my distinction panel to have it assessed prior to the official distinctions sitting?” - this is a very interesting question indeed.

You may well ask when did this practice start? The answer is that it has been going on for some time now and has been advertised on social media and even the IPF website itself. Recently it has reared its ugly head again with a letter circularized to all club members in the north east of the country.

Here is the document which was emailed recently:

Distinction’s Workshop
The Drogheda Photographic Club will be running a Distinction’s workshop in Millmount Square, Drogheda on Saturday 25th February 2018. The workshop starts at 10 am and finishes at 5pm with a lunch break from 1pm to 2pm. Three members of the IPF distinction’s assessing panel will be present to give advice on panels at all levels, Licentiate, Associate and Fellowship levels. Photographers attending for advice should bring along their proposed selected prints-10 for LIPF, 15 for AIPF and 20 for FIPF. Participants should also bring along some spare prints to be used if required. Digital images will not be looked at. Cost for participants with panel is €50, observers without panel €30.
10am : Tea / coffee
10.15am : Introduction and guidelines.
10.45 am : Licentiate panels assessing.
1pm – 2pm Lunch.
2pm -3pm: Licentiate panels assessing continues.
3pm – 5pm : Assessing Associate and Fellowship panels.

Venue : Drogheda Photographic Club , Millmount Square , Drogheda.
Date : Saturday 25th February 2018
Time : 10am ---5 pm Lunch : 1pm—2pm
Cost : With panel €50. Without panel observer €30

Also, here is the notification which is on the IPF website:

Why should this particular process bother any applicant ?

Simply put it is cheating. It involves breaking the rules and it is promoted by those elected by the National Council Members of the IPF. A notification appears on the IPF website and has gone unchallenged. The main tenet of any distinctions application is that the name of the applicant is retained by the distinctions secretary and should not be disclosed to the distinctions chair or assessors - the application should remain anonymous. This safeguard is written in the distinctions protocol and is again reinforced in the handbook, which is attached to each level of distinction.

The protocol states: “Prior to each sitting, the Distinctions Secretary will advise both the Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the number of applicants, and all specified categories therein (distinction level, discipline, theme), but not the names or clubs of applicants.”

The distinctions handbooks state: “Please note that the canvassing of assessors prior to an assessment session may lead to your panel being disqualified.”

How does an applicant present his or her prospective panel to the chair of distinctions and “highly experienced distinction assessors” and have that application remain anonymous? How can an applicant adhere to the basic rule which outlaws canvassing?

Many applicants are resolved to the fact that they need to have their prospective panel pre-assessed, pay an extra €40 or €50 and have pre-clearance prior to the public assessment session - remember to bring cash! Surely this is cheating. There still exist a few who will not participate in this sham but they run the risk of having their work scuppered outside the normal practice as stated within the distinctions protocol.

Someone have defined the term "canvassing" as "actively approaching judges and asking them to vote for your panel. Seeking advice and assistance is entirely different" .... Have they forgotten the wider meaning of the word? Canvassing not only means "to solicit voters, orders or opinions" but can also be "to make a thorough examination or conduct a detailed discussion". So, in bringing your "proposed selected prints" and presenting these prints for others to conduct a detailed discussion is canvassing for those panels of prints - a practice outlawed by the current set of rules - the protocol.

Those who condone this practice bring the IPF into disrepute.

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