Overton Photographic Club

Understanding the Southern Counties Photographic Federation

– by the late John Hodge (OPC President and twice President of the SCPF)

What is the Federation and why should I care?

Having spoken to a lot of club photographers, it is clear that there is a huge lack of understanding about the SCPF and the various Leagues, competitions, exhibitions etc. This is further complicated by the PAGB (Photographic Alliance of Great Britain) and the inter-Federation Exhibitions, Inter-club competitions, Awards for Photographic Merit etc. which it organises.

Let’s start by describing the various layers:

At the top in the UK is the PAGB, the overarching body, which sets out the various rules and regulations which apply to the Federations and Clubs.

The PAGB comprises 15 Federations covering the whole of its geographical area. The SCPF is one of these, covering the South of England, broadly from Wiltshire to West Sussex and up to Berkshire, and including the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands and Gibraltar. The Federation is run by an elected Council, and Club representatives (two from each club) meet with the Council three times per year (Club Representatives’ Meetings).

In any year, within the SCPF there are up to 70 clubs, collecting over 2,000 members. Every member of a Federation Club is automatically affiliated to PAGB.

The PAGB itself is affiliated to an international organisation, the FIAP (Federation Internationale de l’Art Photographique) which also organises international competitions, sanctions International Exhibitions, and confers Distinctions (AFIAP, EFIAP etc.).

So, how are you as a club member affected by all of this?

You will no doubt be aware of the Inter-club Print and PDI Leagues, and regular visits to the club of Judges and Speakers. Well, all of this is co-ordinated through the SCPF, as described below.

The Federation organises training of judges, who then undergo ongoing training and evaluation, gradually progressing from Preliminary to Levels 1,2 and 3.

Alongside the judges, the SCPF holds a list of speakers who are available to clubs. The SCPF Handbook lists all of the judges and a broad range of speakers.

Each club also needs to have Public Liability Insurance to be able to use the speakers and judges, and the PAGB organises a national scheme to give clubs a beneficial insurance rate.

On the competitive side, the SCPF organises the following, open to all clubs in the Federation:

These are split into various divisions with typically seven or eight clubs in each. Each club enters a set of eight prints and eight PDIs, which are used in each round. In every round all clubs compete against the others in its Division, with points awarded; the results are co-ordinated and the league tables updated on the web-site. At the end of the competition, the top two clubs are promoted to the next higher Division, and the bottom two relegated to a lower Division. The SCPF sets up the Leagues, coordinating all the dates for the various rounds, issues the rules, issues the PDI entries to all the participating clubs, and crucially, trains and validates the judges.

The culmination of the Leagues is Finals Day, which is now held in May on the same day as the SCPF AGM. This is where the highest scoring League images from every club (one from each) are judged against each other to arrive at individual awards. There are separate competitions for Prints and PDIs.

The Annual Exhibition is held in Salisbury in January each year. All participating clubs can enter a panel of six prints and eight PDIs. If you as a member want to take part, this is done through your club. 

Entries normally have to be in by end October. Because of the limitations on space, only 35 clubs can be accommodated for Prints, but there is no limit for PDIs.

Held in March each year, this is an inter-club event open to all clubs. Each club has an entry of 20 images in each section.

This is a one-day event, and each club will have its own process for selection of its entries. The top two clubs in the go on to represent the SCPF in the Inter-club Championships organised by the PAGB.

Finally, the Federation operates a Roll of Honour to recognise meritorious contributions by photographers to club and Federation. Nominations can be made by anyone, and need to be supported by referees from within the club. The whole of the process is completely confidential.

In addition to the above, the Federation from time to time hosts PAGB events, such as the Inter-Federation Exhibition and the Awards for Photographic Merit.

The PAGB organises :

Held between the qualifying clubs from each of the Federations (as noted above, the top two clubs in the SCPF Print and PDI Championships represent our Federation). The PDI Championships are held in Warwick in July, and the Print Championships are held in Blackburn in October.

These are national exhibitions, with each Federation having a limited number of entries depending on its size. SCPF is allocated 22 images in each category. The Print Exhibition has categories for Open and Mono, and the PDI Open and Nature.

Since 2014 the entry deadline for both Exhibitions has been 1st June. Entry is co-ordinated by the SCPF’s PAGB Exhibition Co-ordinator, and is open to individuals, not clubs. Entries for consideration can be submitted direct by any club member, with no limitation on numbers; entries are also taken (with photographers’ agreement) from the Print and PDI Championships and from the Finals Day entries.

The Federation always seems to struggle to obtain as many top quality images as are known to be produced in the clubs, so are keen to encourage all photographers to put forward their very best work. Following judging of the Exhibition, the top images are awarded medals and ribbons, and the Exhibition is mounted in several venues across the country over the following months.

This is an inter-club competition, with Print and PDI categories. This is split into Open and Small Clubs sections with the latter having a smaller entry requirement. Entry to this is by Club, not individuals.

These are a set of Distinctions designed to recognise high standards of photographic ability, ranging from Credit (CPAGB), through Distinction (DPAGB), to the very prestigious Master (MPAGB). These distinctions, once achieved, are held for life.

Distinction assessments are held generally twice each year, hosted by different Federations. Entry is by individuals, via the SCPF’s Awards Officer, and the entry is through submission of a set of images (10 for Credit, 15 for Distinction) to be judged on the Assessment day.

These are prestigious special honorary awards to give national recognition to individuals for significant meritorious service to clubs and Federations over many years. Nominations for these are made by clubs, using the process set out in the PAGB Handbook.

The next level of Distinctions is international and operated by Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique (FIAP). FIAP awards Distinctions of Artist (AFIAP), Excellence (EFIAP) and Master Photographer (MFIAP).

Access to these is co-ordinated in the UK by the PAGB, and the Distinctions are open to individuals. To attain these Distinctions, photographers are required to gain a set numbers of acceptances in International Exhibitions. Details are published on the PAGB website.

Resources (clickable links):

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