Not long after I joined my first photo club in 1997, I became very curious on how photos were judged in competitions. I attended all result presentations and became familiar with the requirements. Of course I wanted my photos to win prizes! I joined in with workshops, courses and did mentorships. The photo club also organised mentorships for all members over the years. The first one was by Gijs van Gent and a new world opened up before my eyes.
So I discovered the national genre groups within the Royal Dutch Fotobond - www.fotobond.nl - and in particular the BMK group - Bond Masterclass photographer. It speaks for itself - you are a masterclass photographer, the top category of amateur photographers in all of The Netherlands. I have the ambition to be a BMK photographer.
After I won a place in the top five in the regional competition Series of Five, I automatically was invited to a national competition (invitees only) and became excluded from several other competitions. I was pushed upwards. I felt encouraged to start working on long term large photo series, subsequently I submitted these to the yearly BMK assessments.
First I did a submission for Aspirant BMK with eight photos. I was successful. I then went on for the Kandidaat BMK with a series of 12 photos in 2002 - I achieved it. Moving on to the full title of BMK was within my reach. In 2003 I again was awarded the candidate title. I continued working towards my goal in the following years.
When you are a candidate BMK you may join in with the national group for two years. Here you meet up to five times a year to discuss photos with each other at a high level. I enjoyed being in this group. Since I could not stay I decided to try out for the Documentary Group at the time still called Journalistic Photographers, I submitted eight photos for approval and was accepted. I'm still a member of this group and I now am the coordinator. It's a great group of like-minded photographers!
Henceforth I reapplied for BMK many times over the years with no success. I would pass the first round and be invited to show my work for the interview with a jury member only to hear I wasn't accepted. I developed nerves of steal. Feedback was always important and I took it in my stride.
More recently in 2020 and 2021 both times I was accepted as candidate BMK with new work. The interesting thing is with this series on the last 18 days of my father's life, I did attain my Fellowship Distinction with the RPS (Royal Photographic Society) See panel elsewhere on my site. The RPS require a SOI (Statement of Intent) and this is very carefully studied by a panel of peers, your photos have to match it. I am proud to carry the title FRPS after my name.
So I decided to wait before I tried again. Although I was already working on a new body of work which I started during the lock-downs and presented to the RPS Contemporary North group in February - see link to published article in Showcase - Now this year in 2023, I submitted my series of 12 photos, 'At Night' and was re-awarded the candidate title! This is good of course, but really I'm so ready to be a full fledged BMKer. The feedback was good and encouraging, so I will continue on my journey, working on this series of photos taken at night, to put a new panel of 12 together and re-submit in 2024. Wish me luck!
One day .......
Below please view my successful candidate BMK panels of photos from 2002, 2003, 2020, 2021 and 2023.
The link leads you to all the 2023 BMK successes and candidate BMK successes in the Fotobond.