PSA Rules and Categories

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PSA Image Submission Categories and Definitions

The Projected Image Division (PID) (digital or slide but not prints) is open or general subjects photography; there are no limitations on subject matter or techniques used for image capture or post processing.

The Photojournalism Division (PJD) has an accepted definition which specifies its scope.

The Photo Travel Division (PTD) has an accepted definition which specifies its scope. 

The Nature Division (ND) has an accepted definition which specifies its scope.

The Pictorial Print Division (PPD) has no limitations on subject matter or techniques used for image capture or post processing. There are four PPD tracks – Large Open, Large Monochrome, Small Open and Small Monochrome.

The 3D Division (3DD), formerly Stereo Division, is responsible for conducting and overseeing PSA activities regarding 3D photography. The content or subject matter of an image submitted to a 3DD program or activity is unrestricted.


Photojournalism Definition:

The Photojournalism Division (PJD) is devoted to recording current events or situations to preserve them for the future. News, features, man and man’s environment, human interest, and other topics all are included. The Photojournalism Division provides an opportunity for photographers to learn to capture events effectively (whether for family records, a private collection of historical happenings, or publication) and to share these images with fellow photographers. Photojournalists contribute to the world’s archives for future generations.

Photojournalism images shall consist of pictures or sequences with informative content and emotional impact, including human interest, documentary and spot news. The journalistic value of the photograph shall be considered over pictorial quality. In the interest of credibility, photographs which misrepresent the truth, such as manipulation to alter the subject matter, or situations which are set up for the purpose of photography, are unacceptable in Photojournalism. Human Interest images depict a person or persons in an interactive, emotional, or unusual situation, excluding recreational or sports ACTION

Photojournalism Human Interest Images Human Interest images depict a person or persons in an interactive, emotional, or unusual situation, excluding sports action. * Must include a person or persons (no implied person).

* Judged on photojournalism story depicting/illustrating interaction or emotion or unusual situation. Setups not allowed. 

Photo Travel Definition:

The Photo Travel Division is one of PSA’s reality-based divisions (the others are Nature and Photojournalism). We seek to portray the world as close to reality as we find it. For that reason, PTD has a PT Definition. The definition provides guidelines for the photographer and for competition judges as to what is permitted and what is not permitted in a PT image.

The definition is as follows: A Photo Travel image expresses the characteristic features or culture of a land as they are found naturally. There are no geographic limitations. Images from events or activities arranged specifically for photography, or of subjects directed or hired for photography are not appropriate. Close up pictures of people or objects must include features that provide information about the environment. Techniques that add, relocate, replace or remove any element of the original image, except by cropping, are not permitted. The only allowable adjustments are removal of dust or digital noise, restoration of the appearance of the original scene, and complete conversion to greyscale monochrome. Other derivations, including infrared, are not permitted. All allowed adjustments must appear natural.  

Pictorial Print Definition:

The prints may be in color or monochrome. Digital capture, film photography, desktop and darkroom processing, and commercial prints are all included in the Division’s activities. The content or subject matter of an image submitted to a PPD program or activity is unrestricted. There may be a theme specified for some PSA-recognized PPD exhibitions and the exhibition’s definition of the theme should be consulted.

Nature Division Definition:

Nature photography is restricted to the use of the photographic process to depict all branches of natural history, except anthropology and archaeology, in such a fashion that a well-informed person will be able to identify the subject material and certify its honest presentation. The story telling value of a photograph must be weighed more than the pictorial quality while maintaining high technical quality. Human elements shall not be present, except where those human elements are integral parts of the nature story such as nature subjects, like barn owls or storks, adapted to an environment modified by humans, or where those human elements are in situations depicting natural forces, like hurricanes or tidal waves. Scientific bands, scientific tags or radio collars on wild animals are permissible. Photographs of human created hybrid plants, cultivated plants, feral animals, domestic animals, or mounted specimens are ineligible, as is any form of manipulation that alters the truth of the photographic statement.

No techniques that add, relocate, replace, or remove pictorial elements except by cropping are permitted. Techniques that enhance the presentation of the photograph without changing the nature story or the pictorial content, or without altering the content of the original scene, are permitted including HDR, focus stacking and dodging/burning. Techniques that remove elements added by the camera, such as dust spots, digital noise, and film scratches, are allowed. Stitched images are not permitted. All allowed adjustments must appear natural. Color images can be converted to grey-scale monochrome. Infrared images, either direct-captures or derivations, are not allowed.  (Note: Bold emphasis added by PSA)

Images used in Nature Photography competitions may be divided in two classes: Nature and Wildlife. Images entered in Nature sections meeting the Nature Photography Definition above can have landscapes, geologic formations, weather phenomena, and extant organisms as the primary subject matter. This includes images taken with the subjects in controlled conditions, such as zoos, game farms, botanical gardens, aquariums and any enclosure where the subjects are totally dependent on man for food.

Images entered in Wildlife sections meeting the Nature Photography Definition above are further defined as one or more extant zoological or botanical organisms free and unrestrained in a natural or adopted habitat. Landscapes, geologic formations, photographs of zoo or game farm animals, or of any extant zoological or botanical species taken under controlled conditions are not eligible in Wildlife sections. Wildlife is not limited to animals, birds and insects. Marine subjects and botanical subjects (including fungi and algae) taken in the wild are suitable wildlife subjects, as are carcasses of extant species. Wildlife images may be entered in Nature sections of Exhibitions




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