The Photographic Society of America (PSA) is a worldwide organization providing a wide range of services that promote photography and benefits to its members. Individual members can participate in competitions, study groups and on-line education programs designed to advance their photographic knowledge and skills. Competitions are held for clubs, councils, federations and chapters, also. Member image galleries are always available for viewing. An annual youth photography showcase, open to all students of high school age, is conducted as well. Opportunities for image analysis and critique as well as discounts for both hardware and software products are available for all members. In addition to special access to a Member's Only area on this dynamic and informative website, every member receives the high-quality PSA Journal each month.
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There are ten Chapters which may be considered as "local" PSA branches and are composed of only PSA members. They are located along the East Coast, in the upper Midwest, and in parts of the Far West. Because of legalities, there are no Chapters outside of the United States. An annual PSA Chapter Showcase competition is held at the PSA Annual Conference. Chapters submit a PSA Chapter's Gallery quarterly which is a print gallery of their member's works. Any PSA member residing in the vicinity of a Chapter should feel free to attend any of their activities. Chapters also have activities including competitions, field trips, and speaker programs. Additional information is available on the PSA Chapters home page.
There are over 500 camera clubs throughout the world which are members of PSA. One of the primary activities of PSA-member clubs is participating in the PSA Interclub Competitions. You can also find out about many other activities run by PSA Clubs, Councils and Federations.
A camera club Council may also be known as an association, federation, or organization of camera or photography clubs. A camera club Council consists of a number of camera clubs, usually located in a geographic area, which join together to participate in photographic activities as a group. All camera clubs are PSA members. Each year these Councils can compete in the PSA Council's Challenge. Councils have activities including competitions, field trips, and speaker programs. Their activities may be found on the Council's Calendar web page.
The annual PSA Newsletter and Website Contests are also available to Chapters, Clubs, and Councils. The Chapters, Club, & Council's Vice President has the primary responsibility for overseeing the activities of these organizations.
Most divisions offer digital or print Study Groups for individual PSA members and have appointed one or more volunteer directors to supervise and conduct these activities. While postal costs and regulations limit the majority of print groups to North America, digital groups frequently have members from various parts of the world. This is made possible by extensive use of the Internet for on-line entries and messages.
A group typically consists of 5 to 7 PSA members. During each cycle, which may range from 1 to 3 months, each member submits 1 to 4 prints or images for review. Print groups use a round-robin procedure to conduct their cycles. However, digital groups make use of individual websites for on-line submissions of images and reviews. This process allows members to work independently but still share knowledge and experiences. Some groups have senior volunteer photographers providing expert commentary.
PSA members are welcome to participate, free of charge as a benefit of membership, in as many groups as they wish, within and across divisions. Over the years, these groups have served to increase the knowledge and expand the skills of all those who have been a part of these programs. Many lasting friendships have been formed, even though the members may never meet face-to-face.
Each division conducts Interclub Competitions, under the supervision of appointed volunteer directors. Depending upon the division, the competitions are conducted 3 or 4 times a year (refer to the Interclub Comparison Chart). Divisions with large numbers of participating clubs, including those from various countries, are organized into groups of approximately 25 PSA clubs each. Host clubs volunteer to conduct each of the competitions, on a group-by-group basis, which includes providing a panel of 3 judges.
For each competition, the clubs submit 6 digital images or prints from their entire membership, which may include non-PSA members. The combined scores of a club's entry are used to determine their ranking within a competition. The combined scores are also totaled at the end of the year to determine overall rankings. In the case of competitions having multiple groups, the rankings will be used in forming the groups for the next year. All scores and rankings are posted on the website, as are galleries of the award-winning images.
Individual high awards are given to approximately 10% of the digital images or prints for each competition. Another 10% may receive Honorable Mention recognition. Some divisions conduct end-of-the-year competitions for anyone that has received a high award to determine the best of the best. These competitions are the basis for producing photographic programs, complete with music, which may be used for informational and promotional purposes.
Some divisions also conduct individual competitions, free of charge, throughout the year for PSA members, using appointed volunteer directors. In addition to sharing their work and possibly earning some recognition, PSA members have opportunities for determining how well some of their images might perform in International Exhibitions. In the case of digital competitions, remote judging is frequently used to provide a broader spectrum of expertise.
Image of the year competitions are held by some divisions. Only those digital images or prints that have received a medal in an International Exhibition of Photography are eligible for inclusion in the competitions. A panel of judges is used to determine the highest awards, which are often presented during the annual PSA Conference.
The Society has a long-standing practice of recognizing members for outstanding and dedicated service. This is unlike other societies and organizations that grant recognition based only on photographic proficiency (see PSA Distinctions) and this can be confusing to those who have been involved with other photography groups. The honorees are presented with their awards at the conference each year during the closing banquet.
One of the major activities of PSA is the establishment and implementation of a set of standards for the conduct of an International Exhibition of Photography, under the supervision of the Exhibitions Vice President. On a calendar year basis, the divisions provide recognition to several hundred Exhibitions worldwide, which adopt these standards. An exhibition may consist of a single section, two more sections within a single division or multiple sections recognized by two or more divisions. There are also circuits, which are two or more exhibitions being conducted as single activity. Any group or organization desiring to host an exhibition can apply to PSA to have it "recognized."
Anyone can enter an International Exhibition of Photography. For those wishing to submit entries, PSA maintains an online Exhibition listing as well in the PSA Journal. All entries are judged by a multi-person panel, with approximately 25% to 45% being "accepted" and listed in the exhibition's catalog. These acceptances may be used by PSA members to apply for Star and Galaxy ratings as well as enabling them to earn photographic Distinctions for their achievements.
Each year PSA publishes Who's Who in Photography, which is a compilation of the accepted images from PSA-recognized International Exhibitions of Photography conducted during the previous year.
One of the most enjoyable activities of PSA is the week-long Annual Conference. The Annual Conference is held in September or October in a different location each year. During the Annual Conference registrants can participate in photo tours, classes, workshops, and photo shoots. There is an Opening Meeting of the Society with award presentations, an extensive Print Exhibition, a variety of programs, featured speakers in the evenings, social events, a vendor area with product demonstrations, numerous photographic activities, and a Banquet on the last evening. The Conference is a great way to meet people, have a personal encounter with someone whose photography is known, and renew longtime acquaintances.
PSA Greenhood scholarships are awarded to second-year students majoring in photography at a school that offers a degree in photography. The PSA Scholarships and Grants Committee, all Presidential appointees works with an education foundation, which oversees the scholarship process for over 20 Art Institutes with photography programs in the US and Canada. Once the process narrows down the list of possible candidates each year, the Committee completes its works by reviewing the students' work for itself before making final decisions, which are announced at the annual PSA conference. In addition to receiving the scholarship, the selectees must provide a portfolio of prints for display at the next conference. They are given the opportunity to attend the conference, free of charge.
Each year PSA conducts a Youth Showcase, which is a competition that is open to all high school age students worldwide. Entry is free however each student must be sponsored by a Chapter, PSA-member club or council or 4H club. A school, in coordination with a single sponsor, may submit no more than 6 digital images and 6 prints. Some of the award-winning images are displayed at the annual PSA conference and receive cash awards. Chapters, clubs and councils may submit their digital images on-line.
The Members Only page contains a description of all benefits as well as access to the several programs and other information items, which are intended only for the use of PSA members, including the online version of the PSA Journal, PSA online courses, PSA member discounts, and a special section for Clubs and Councils. It is important to honor and respect those privileges of membership. Consequently, this members' only page (with all the links "live") is password-protected.