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100 steps to excellence

Seven Sisters © Robert Harvey
Seven Sisters © Robert Harvey

Professional photographer, Robert Harvey, was the guest speaker for the Dawlish & Teignmouth Camera Club recently. Robert, who lives in Wiltshire, leads photography tours throughout Britain as well as overseas and is the author of several books on photography. However, it was his journey to ‘Excellence’ status with the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP) that was the topic of his talk One Hundred Steps to Excellence, where he showed 100 of his incredible images.

Robert explained that FIAP is an international organization comprising more than 85 national associations of photography, resulting in nearly one million individual photographers! Every year photographers can submit their images for specific categories – such as Nature, Travel, People, Creative, Photojournalism - to a number of international salons, where a panel of three judges quickly consider the images for acceptance, so they need to have impact. The entry criteria is very high: for Artiste, 40 images have to be accepted in 15 different works, by 15 different salons in 8 different countries. For Excellence, 250 images have to be accepted in 50 different works, in 30 different salons in 20 different countries. And, this is set to get tougher from 2022 when the criteria is raised even higher.

Robert is inspired by remote locations, such as coasts, mountains and deserts and his photographic schedules are often dictated by sunrise, sunset, moon, tides and weather. Many anecdotes were given throughout his talk showing his tenacity in getting the photo he envisioned. The image of the Seven Sisters from the viewpoint on Seaford Head took three years to get because the setting sun had to be in exactly the right position to cast dramatic shadows on the chalk cliffs. This only happens in late May and late July – and only on a few days during those periods does high tide coincide with sunset, so the sea reaches the base of the cliffs.

Members were treated to one remarkable image after another – from the misty valleys of the Wiltshire countryside to the encroaching tide over the causeway to St Michael’s Mount, then swiftly to an Arctic scene complete with Northern Lights to a sinuous sand dune in the Namibian desert.

Robert’s wildlife images were equally impressive with exquisite close ups of Monkey orchids and a Marbled White Butterfly silhouetted against the moon – to a complete change of scale with a murmuration of 50,000 Knots with only one in a different colour, which he joked about making into a jigsaw! His travels to photograph wildlife have taken him from Anteaters to Zebras in Africa; to Ecuador for hummingbirds; and to South America for Jaguars.

Robert finished his talk by encouraging members to have a go at entering images in the International Salons.

Competition Secretary, Kevin McDonagh, who had previously joined Robert on one of his photographic workshops, thanked him on behalf of the Club for a most enjoyable and informative evening.

If you have an interest in photography – from beginner to the more experienced – and would like to join the club, see the website for details

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