What The F@ck Is FIAP??
Ok, I’m not an official aficionado when it comes to FIAP, FIAP salons and all things related to FIAP, but I do get a lot of questions directed to me relating to FIAP salons and such like. Unfortunately the FIAP webpage itself is pretty poor when it comes to finding out information, so I thought I’d create my own resource on the subject. So here are the answers to the most common questions I get asked.
What the f@ck is FIAP?
How do I become a member?
What is a FIAP liaison officer?
What is a FIAP salon?
What is an acceptance?
What is an award?
What is a catalog?
What is a star rating?
What is a circuit?
What is a FIAP distinction?
How do I apply for a distinction?
How long do I have to wait for a catalog?
Where can I find a list of salons?
You have to pay?????
How do you submit to digital salons?
How do you submit to print salons?
Is it all worth the hassle?
Do I have to hibernate after the EFIAP?
Do awards received prior to your EFIAP count towards your EFIAP levels?
Where are these mythical rules that you speak of?
Any other questions?
A camera club is a group of photographers, local to a particular area (usually a village, town or sometimes a county). Often camera clubs are part of a National Federation, which organises competitions, distinctions etc. across it’s member clubs. Well FIAP is a federation of National Federations. So it’s a global/international photographic body. Like the local clubs and national federations, it hosts competitions and offers distinctions, but unlike the local clubs and national federations, you are now competing and being measured against photographers from across the planet. It stands for Federation Internationale de l’Arte Photographique.
It’s likely your countries National Federation is already a member, but if you want to partake individually in FIAP salons, then you need to register yourself as a member also. As a reflection of just how bad the FIAP website is, at time of writing, having spent 15 minutes trawling through their website, I can not find the membership application form. But it’s there somewhere. Failing that, contact your FIAP liaison officer. You need to be a member BEFORE applying for your distinctions.
(Otherwise known as a FIAP Rep) Given the fact that FIAP deals with a international base of photographers, it simply couldn’t cope with handling correspondences, distinction applications, queries etc. from each member. So each National Federation appoint a FIAP liaison officer to be a conduit for all information and communication to and from FIAP. They handle membership applications, distinction applications, FIAP patronages etc. They are your first point of call and if you have a good one, should be your last point of call.
Put simply, a salon is an exhibition. A local club (that is affiliated to FIAP through their National Federation) decides to host an exhibition and they invite photographers from around the world to submit images to the exhibition. The images go through a selection process, where the selection is made by a panel of judges (3 or more, often including a judge or judges from outside of the host country) and the selected images are then exhibited. FIAP offers patronage to these exhibitions assuming they comply with their rules and regulations.
A print salon accepts the entry of physical prints and it is these prints that go through the selection process and these prints that end up being exhibited. A digital salon accepts digital images as the entry. Selection is usually done based on these images (although some salons will print the images themselves). Normally the exhibitions for digital salons comprise of having the images projected rather than prints being hung. A lot of salons offer a mix of both media.
Only a certain portion of images submitted to a salon will be accepted for exhibition. This varies, but is rarely more than 1/3rd and can be as low as 10% depending on the salon and the number of entries they receive. If your image was accepted for exhibition, it means it fell in this percentile and it will be exhibited. Congrats
In addition to “just” selecting the entries that will be exhibited, the judges also award their top images with various prizes. FIAP itself awards Gold, Silver and Bronze medals as well as FIAP Ribbons and FIAP Honorable Mentions. The rules for awards can vary from salon to salon, but the long and short of it is, that if your images receive an award, they were chosen as being amongst the top few images from all those submitted. Salons often have patronages from other photographic bodies in addition to FIAP, so there’s generally an array of prizes there for the winning. Normally the top 1 to 2% of images in the salon will feature in the awards.
Each salon must produce a “catalog” featuring various selected works from their exhibition. It also must list (in text) every accepted image in the exhibition. Catalogs effectively provide proof that you have achieved acceptances in a salon. Catalogs can be print catalogs (yey )or CD catalogs (boo ) or sometimes both. The quality of the catalog in terms of image layout, print quality, size etc. can vary from the pretty amazing (see Exposed, Trierenberg, San Sebastien), to the terrible (usually any of the UK catalogs), so it’s a mixed bag. The catalog generally always feature the awarded images and a random selection of other accepted works. But the selection and layout is entirely at the discretion of the salon committee. Having your work selected for publication in a catalog is a bonus, not a guarantee.
Based on a particular salons past history and catalogs, FIAP will rate that salon from 1 through to 5 stars. The idea is to give you some idea as to what sort of quality catalog you will receive. But don’t let this deceive you. There are some 4 and 5 star salons which produce truly, truly awful catalogs. Likewise, there are some 3 star (or lower) salons, which produce amazing catalogs. The only true rating is your own. Having submitted religiously every month two salons over a 2 year period, I’ve started to recognise which salons produce the better catalogs (in my opinion) and I tend to show loyalty to them, by submitting again the following year.
In 2011, FIAP introduced a new award called the FIAP Blue Badge (a little pin), which is awarded to the “Best Author” in a salon. This is the author that had the most images accepted into the salon. If there’s a tie – well I’m not sure what happens, but in the end, one author is selected. FIAP then have a prize called the “Best Of The Best” which is awarded to the author who has picked up the most FIAP Blue Badges through out the year. The best FIAP author in the world for that year.
A circuit is a group of salons, where you submit to just one, but your images are shared amongst them all. They are judged, scored and awarded individually, usually with a different panel of judges for each salon in the circuit. Only one catalog for the circuit is produced. Circuits obviously provide you with the greatest chance to pick up acceptances and awards, for the least amount of effort. The Austrian Super Circuit, Trierenberg being the most notable (amazing organisation, images and catalog – the best on the FIAP circuit)
FIAP offer photographers the opportunity to work towards distinctions as they submit their work to salons. The distinctions are AFIAP (Artist FIAP), EFIAP (Excellence FIAP), EFIAP bronze, EFIAP Silver, EFIAP Gold and EFIAP Platinum. There is also an MFIAP (Master FIAP) and Honorary EFIAP. Each distinction follows on from the last and has a different requirement in terms of the number of acceptances required, the number of different images with acceptances, the number of different countries you had acceptances in, the number of different salons you have entered/success in and the number of different awards you have received.
First of all, it is your job to track your own acceptances and awards. Keep a spreadsheet of your acceptances/submissions and start doing it NOW!! The application form for the distinction you are applying for is available on the FIAP website. Each country is only able to make one submission annually and the date of this submission is dictated by your FIAP liaison office/National Federation. Once the form has been filled in it is submitted to your FIAP rep, who then checks the accuracy and validity of the submission, at which point it is ratified and sent on to FIAP for final approval. Timing is everything. Know when your deadline is and get the form in on time – don’t fill it out wrong and ensure you comply with the requirements. Getting it wrong can mean you end up waiting another year before the next deadline!
Each salon must publish a schedule which details the closing date for entries, the judging date(s), the date of notification of results, the date(s) of the exhibition itself and the date when the catalogs will be mailed. So you should know in advance of submitting to the salon, when you are due to hear the results and receive the catalog/awards. This can range from 1~2 months and in some cases MUCH longer. Also, lets not forget, that salons are run on a voluntary basis and delays can happen. But by and large most salons are pretty good at sticking to their schedules.
On the FIAP website (obviously ) http://patronages.fiap.net/ This contains a list of all the salons currently registered to run. It shows their star ratings, their rules, their schedule, their entry fee etc. This is your bible
Of course you do! A salon incurs huge costs. The administration of it, judges fees, hosting the exhibition and last but most certainly not least, the production of the catalog and the postal charges to get that to you. Salons range in cost, but all in all, they’re not massively expensive. I look at it as an investment. Assuming you choose the right salons, you end up with wonderful catalogs, packed full of amazing images that would grace any coffee table – often at a much lower cost than photographic books purchased from book stores. Generally you pay a set minimum fee to enter and then a marginal fee above and beyond that for each section you enter. Payment now is moving very much towards PayPal.
Most digital salons now have their own online entry forms, allowing live uploading of images. Sadly, it seems no salon can agree on minimum or maximum size requirements, so you often have to change the resolution of your images to suit each salon ( a real pain in the ass). But digital salons are easy to enter.. 5 minutes resizing images, upload them, pay via PayPal.. sit back and wait for the results/catalog. It couldn’t be simpler. Those that don’t offer live upload, accept entries on CD (which is a bigger pain in the ass than resizing – I give these salons a wide berth)
I much prefer print salons, but obviously there is the logistics of printing and posting that need to be addressed. Print size requirements can vary from salon to salon (make sure you pay attention to what these are). I print the images out, enclose them between two pieces of card, usually larger than the prints and sized perfectly for the padded envelopes that I have purchased specially for entry (A3+ size). I have pre-printed labels with my name, address etc that are stuck on to the back of each print, so all that’s left is for me to write the title. Similarly I have large labels for the envelopes that say “Prints for exhibition purpose only – to be returned to sender”, “No commercial value” and “Do not bend”. I always post via registered post and the most expensive this has ever been was to a salon in Australia (€9). Obviously I have no idea of the condition of the prints when they arrive, but so far I have won an award in pretty much every print salon I have entered, so I am assuming they made it there safe and sound.
Well considering I got my AFIAP in 2011, my EFIAP in 2012 and I am on track for my EFIAP bronze in 2013, I would have to say yes. But leaving the distinctions aside, I still think it’s a worth while process. It gives you a forum to have your work seen – particularly if it’s accepted into the salon. How many of us have the opportunity to have our work printed and hung on a wall? The catalogs (assuming you get a good one) are worth the effort alone, especially if you have your work selected for publication in them. And then there’s the awards, which are extremely rewarding to pick up. So yeah.. I think it’s worth it.
Ok, so we’ve already covered that you can only apply for a distinction annually. So if you meet the requirements for your EFIAP well in advance of the date you are allowed apply for it, then YES, YOU MUST HIBERNATE – i.e. you should stop submitting to salons. Rule 4.2b states that “After the date of being awarded the EFIAP distinction, have obtained at least: xxxxx”. Which means that any acceptances you gain prior to achieving your EFIAP award can not be used for your EFIAP bronze – so any acceptances after you meet the requirements, but prior to the award are effectively wasted.
In short, yes There is nothing specified in the rules relating to the date of awards. There is stipulations over the awards never having been used for prior distinctions and being from different countries etc. But the date of award doesn’t matter.
What an excellent question! Certainly if you can find the rules on the FIAP website, you’re a better man than me. The IPF do have the rules on theirs, which is now an official copy, rather than a scanned in copy of a faxed version. But I’ve also included them here for anyone interested.
That’s all I can think of for now, but certainly if you have any questions you’d like addressed or would like me to clarify any of the answers I have already provided, feel free to leave a comment.