So Many Clubs

By Douglas Wade

I have a confession to make. I just started my third year of being the President of LPA and I am still learning about the relationships between LPA, S4C, and PSA. I figure that if I do not know, then most likely, you may not know either. With the help of Nan Carder, Bonnie J. Matthews-Franke, and Sue Craft, I was able to get a better understanding of the relationships.

Most of us know what LPA is, right? The Lancaster Photography Association is a camera club that is a 501(c) non-profit organization and will be celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. We provide educational programs, workshops, field trips, photo competitions, and support community service projects. Membership is $35 a year.

What is S4C? It stands for the Southern California Council of Camera Clubs. It is made up of many camera clubs in Southern California, from San Diego, to the Antelope Valley, and is comprised of beginner, amateur, and professional photographers. You must be a member of a camera club (such as LPA) that is a Member Club of S4C, to participate, and there is no membership fee.

What is PSA? It stands for the Photographic Society of America. PSA consists of clubs, councils, and individual members, in the United States and around the world. Individuals, clubs, and councils can join PSA. Both LPA and S4C feed into PSA. The individual PSA Membership is $45 annually for a digital membership, and $60 for a digital membership plus a hard copy of the PSA Journal.

Ok, so what are the relationships between all of these clubs or organizations? What is the value of belonging to each?

There are many reasons to participate in LPA, S4C, and PSA, such as: education, competitions, recognitions, and fellowship.


When it comes to education, LPA offers one unique advantage over the other two. Bi-monthly, they teach in a localized face-to-face group setting, where a person leads workshop or event, and whether beginners or advanced can freely ask questions. The LPA offers education in many areas, each to cater to the casual photographer to the hard-core camera user, as needed. The LPA offers field trips, competitions, educational seminars, hands-on workshops, and articles on photography in our monthly newsletter called Desert Exposure.

S4C does not offer monthly education, but does support the local clubs by connecting clubs to other clubs, such as when our club needs a judge for a competition, and sharing information on guest speakers and workshop presenters.

PSA offers some of the following benefits: educational online courses such as Image Analysis, History of Photography, Composition, and Consulting (on presentation and on judging). PSA has a lending library, galleries, forums (ex. Photo-Editors), study groups, discounts, an annual conference, honors, and distinctions, plus their monthly magazine called, the PSA Journal.


Ah, competitions. This area is what many people want to be involved in to become a better photographer, to compete against their friends and peers and for fun.

The LPA has five competitions a year, starting in July, plus an End of the Year competition in June where the award winning photos compete. Each year, the themes of each competition are announced, and the workshops and field trips are coordinated to best support photo opportunities to enter photos in each competition.

For 2016-2017 the themes are as follows:

  • July – Macro
  • October – Human Interest
  • January – Travel
  • March – Pictorial
  • May – Desert Wildflowers & Desert Scenes

You need to be a member to enter a competition. The entry fee is $5, which allows you to enter one to three images, and hear the judge’s critique on all images entered. Those images can be entered as digital entries, print entries, or any combination. There are four digital skill levels, Novice, Amateur, Advanced Amateur, and Master. As a new member, you are placed in Novice, but you can request (by showing work) to be placed in another skill level. For prints, there are two skill levels. Intermediate (for Novice/Amateur) and Master (for Advanced Amateur/Master). LPA’s website has all the details on entering competitions, such as the rules, the class definitions for each competition, and how to enter. If you need help, please contact After the competition, one can view all images entered, and the results, on the LPA website.

S4C has a competition season that runs from September through April. During that time, you can upload your digital images and/or the club will enter images on your behalf. Those the club enters will compete in “interclub”, which is a separately judged class from you entering as an individual. Keep in mind, a particular image can only be entered in interclub or as an individual, not both. S4C also hosts an annual international exhibition. From October through April, S4C offers the monthly competitions in the following Divisions/Sections:

Pictorial Division

  • Interclub Color
  • Individual Color
  • Arranged Color
  • Creative
  • Monochrome

Nature Division

  • General
  • Wildlife
  • Clarification of Nature Definitions

Photo Travel Division

  • General

Photojournalism Division

  • General
  • Human Interest

Visit for more information.

PSA offers competitions for their individual members and interclub. They have competition rounds that are judged by PSA-member clubs. Images winning awards are judged at the end of the season for the best of show or Best of the Best. They have six divisions:

  • Projected Image Division (PID)
  • Nature Division (ND)
  • Photo Travel Division (PTD)
  • Photojournalism Division (PJD)
  • Pictorial Print Division (PPD)
  • 3D Division (3DD)

PSA also offers the Website Contest, the Newsletters Contest, and the Youth Showcase for all PSA-member camera clubs, councils, and Chapters. LPA has been competing in these competitions for many years.

All three groups use rounds (LPA used an end of year voting) to have images judged collectively for choice for Best of Year.



Photo Awards – Competition winners are awarded ribbons 1st to 3rd place (digital), Excellence Awards (prints), and Honorable Mentions (digital and prints). The 1st place and Excellence Awards all compete for End of Year Awards in June. Members Choice Trophy/Plaques are awarded for each skill/division level, for a total of six awards.


Photo Awards – S4C has seven competitions during their competition year. Awards and Honorable Mentions are awarded to images entered. The winning images are eligible for the year-end awards. Year end awards given are Bronze, Silver, and Gold High Point Awards and Individual image awards. S4C has an End-of-Year judging with qualified judges from around the U.S. These judges also select a Best-of-Show.

S4C Honors are given to its members who qualify through active participation in a wide variety of photographic and S4C-related activities. – AS4C, FS4C, DFS4C, HonS4C.


Photo Awards – Distinctions: PSA recognizes international exhibitions around the world. Members earn acceptances which go for Division Stars. When enough division stars are accumulated, individuals earn distinctions (PPSA, EPSA, MPSA, GMPSA, etc.). These acceptances also go towards the annual Who’s Who, which is a yearly publication of the top- winning photographers in the world that compete in international exhibitions.
Honors Awards: Honors are given for photographic achievement plus service in clubs, councils, and PSA.


When photographers get together to talk about their art, that is fellowship.

LPA offers a variety of different choices to meet and talk about all things photographic, such as at bi-monthly meetings, field trips, Friday Night Discussion groups and the monthly breakfasts.

S4C meets twice a year for competitions (the rest are judged remotely) where they have judging in person (however images are only scored, and there are no critiques offered). They have the end of year banquet, celebrating everyone’s photographic accomplishments, both photo, and service related.

PSA has an annual conference, located in different photographic areas throughout the United States, where members gather to hear top-notch speakers, educators and for photography outings.

In closing, all the photography organizations offer discounts on products and services. Belonging to a camera club has value, whether you want to increase your skills with competitions, education or fellowship. The value is unlimited, but you need to commit. All three are volunteer based. When you see something that needs to be done, please volunteer to help. It is your club, and you too can be a part of helping make it the best!