Club Group Structure

Groups: why we have them and how membership is decided.

The normal practice among Photographic Societies is to organise their membership into groups, according either to members’ experience or to their achievement in competitions. This ensures that people compete at the appropriate level.

Whilst there are several different ways of creating a group structure, our version replicates the model used by several of the North West’s most successful Societies. This model is more competitive and also more aspirational as there is no automatic, experience-based progression; instead, places in the top group (known as the Advanced group) have to be earned on a season by season basis. Entry to the group depends entirely on the immediately preceding season’s results.

For the purposes of Open competitions only, there are three LSAPS groups: Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. In Set Subject competitions members compete against each other on a level playing field, with no reference to the Groups structure.

At the start of each season, members with little or no experience of photography will be assigned to a Beginners group and can expect to remain there for two seasons, depending on their achievements in competitions. Assignment to Beginners depends on an assessment of existing work, if any, by the LSAPS Competition Secretary. Beginners compete against each other in ‘Open’ competitions and Judges are asked to mark images using the standard ‘1-20 marks’ scoring system.

Most club members, including new members who have substantial experience or are already achieving higher standards in their photography, will belong to the Intermediate group, comprising more experienced photographers including those whose ambition is to progress through the club ranks or to achieve external exhibition standards. The expectation is that Intermediate group members will achieve a good standard of club photography at all times. At the end of each season, the best Intermediate group performers in that season’s competitions will progress to the Advanced group for the following season. By ‘best’, we mean those who achieve at least 85% of the total available marks from the season’s three ‘Open’ Print or three ‘Open’ PDI competitions. Using the ‘1-20’ scoring mechanism, that means achieving a total of at least 102 out of a possible 120 marks in either category.

The third group, called Advanced, will comprise two elements: print workers and PDI workers. The expectation is that the Advanced workers group will be an inspirational group of workers who achieve and/or maintain external exhibition standards.

To ensure high standards are maintained, places in the Advanced group will be re-competed each season. What this means in practice is that at the end of each season, the lowest performers in the Advanced Prints section, together with the lowest in the Advanced PDIs section, will revert to the Intermediate group and, as described previously, the best Print and the best PDI workers in the Intermediate group will move into the relevant section of the Advanced group. It is perfectly possible that some members will be in both of the sections of the Group. It is also possible for someone to be in the Advanced section for Prints and Intermediate for PDIs or vice versa.

At this stage, it’s worth acknowledging that this structure means that, whilst a small number of our most skilled photographers may remain in the Advanced group for many seasons, the likelihood is that membership of the group will shift from season to season as people move up and down. This is a reflection on the competitive nature of the structure, not the skills of the people involved and it is that very competitiveness which drives individuals and clubs to raise standards and achieve their best.