I am now officially a qualified Fellow of the Master Photographers Association. I qualified today, after showing a set of 20 images to a panel of judges as well as a working profile. All 20 images were judged to be of Fellowship standard (the pass level is 90%, so 18 are needed to gain it) and the panel’s decision was unanimous.

It feels great to have the qualification, but almost an anticlimax. The panel was finalised a number of weeks ago after feedback from two very experienced photographers and months of mentoring. It just reached a point where I couldn’t find any weak images, so figured that the whole panel was probably either going to pass or fail.

All 20 images are maternity portraits, printed onto watercolour paper; with many abstract rather than figurative. My certificate will be in Illustrative photography – and the panel recommended a number of images to go into this year’s MPA awards, which is judged in the summer. In any event, I’ll be in Newcastle in October for the awards ceremony, where I’ll officially accept the qualification. What’s also nice is that it’s likely that the panel may also win best Fellowship panel of 2008 – fingers crossed on that one.

The MPA judges Fellowship panels once a year and about 6-8 people had their panels judged today at Stansted. To succeed, a panel must show the photographer’s individual style with all the images working together. It’s the highest accolade the association bestows – and out of its 1500 or so members, about 60-70 people in the UK hold it. Of those, fewer than 10 are women. So yes, I’m very, very chuffed at the moment.

One of the main things I discovered in writing up my working profile, was how important client input was in creating the images. Whether it was their choosing what to wear, what they wanted to show or their preferences for images I’d already taken. So this wouldn’t have happened without great clients nor a number of experienced photographers as mentors for this particular journey. As my high school english teacher Miss Johnson used to say, no man is an island.