BPE5* Award

25th September 2014
I first started entering "BPE" Exhibitions in January 2012, and was almost certainly the first N.I Club photographer to take part. The BPE (British Photographic Exhibitions) offers patronage to approximately 18 National Exhibitions throughout the Year :

I had always had a certain amount of frustration in terms of finding an outlet for my photography - what use is it, if no-one gets to see it? The inter-club competition run by NIPA only caters for 40x30cm mounted prints, and NIPA holds a single Print Exhibition every Year. The BPE offered me an opportunity to have my work judged on a National rather than a local stage, and also gave me the chance to raise my profile within the UK amateur photography scene.
This has led to invitations to present my prints to UK camera clubs in 2014/15 - including Smethwick, Wrekin Arts and the Yorkshire Monochrome Group, as well as Clubs in the Republic of Ireland, including Dundalk, Drogheda, Malahide, Tallaght and Dublin Camera Clubs.

I was pleasantly surprised at my initial success on the National Exhibition stage, but quickly realised that it required sustained effort not only to win awards, but even to get your work accepted at all.
Such is the level of interest and competition in BPE Exhibitions, that each and every single acceptance is 'hard earned!'

The BPE Award system runs from BPE1* (25 acceptances) up to BPE5* (300 acceptances) - and I have now achieved BPE5* after almost 3 years entering the Exhibitions. I have managed a total of 87 awards which equates to an award for every 3.5 images accepted over the 3 years.
Several N.I photographer have now joined me on the National Exhibition Circuit, again, with considerable success - Bob Given, Hugh Wilkinson, Anne Given and Keith Elgin - all fellow members of Catchlight Camera Club.

My success on the National Circuit spurred me on to the International Exhibitions, run under the auspices of Federation Internationale De L'Art Photographique or 'FIAP' - and in 2015 I will become the first ever N.I club photographer to achieve EFIAP/Bronze.

I would encourage more N.I Club photographers to get involved - particularly if you believe that your work does not get featured in local competition. The NIPA inter-club competition only allows 3 advanced prints to through in each category, and in a large Club, it can be difficult to have your work selected. Much of the work that is not selected for NIPA is still quality work - and deserves an outlet on a bigger stage. If anyone from any Club wants any advice or guidance, do not hesitate to contact me.

Ross McKelvey MPAGB FIPF EFIAP and a very proud BPE5*