Why we’re here (and why us)?
Photographs can be powerful. Good ones can be beautiful, touching, entertaining or troubling. Great ones have the ability to connect the viewer with moments and subjects across time and space in a way that matters. They can also be a lot of fun to create!
We’re in the midst of a golden age of photography. Never have so many people taken so many photos with such ease and quality, and then been able to publish them worldwide in an instant. Dallas Center for Photography exists because people want a place to go, a real physical place, where they can learn about photography from photographers who are also great teachers.
Photography is a technical art. The camera is a tool, but sometimes a tough one to really understand and control. Our basic classes are known for the way they demystify the technical aspects of digital photography while keeping our clients engaged and curious about the next step. Our workshops cover a range of styles, subjects and aspirations, always encouraging experimentation and focusing more on the process instead of intently bagging the perfect trophy photo.
If you’d like to know what other people have to say about their experiences here then please read some of their testimonials on our Reviews page.
How we got here
In 2008, Peter Poulides got a call from one of his annual report clients, a designer in the PR/Marketing department of a large non-profit. Their boss had just let go of their in-house photographer who was doing event and headshot photos for web and internal communications. To make up for the missing photographer, their boss bought a new DSLR for the marketing staff. He assumed that, since the camera was the same type the photographer used, they should be able to step in and take care of the photography. They weren’t asking Peter to shoot; they wanted him to teach them how to shoot! Evidently the same thing was happening in many companies in an effort to reduce cost.
Peter put together a custom training session for the people in charge of that fancy new camera and it went well. He looked around and discovered that there weren’t any professional, high quality photography classes in Dallas. So in 2009 Peter put up a website as The Spot Studio and started teaching a few classes for all of those other people who had new cameras and lots of questions. What started as a side business quickly grew as word-of-mouth brought in more clients. By 2010, The Spot Studio had become the premier location in Dallas for photography training.
By mid-2014, we’d had over 1600 unique clients come through our doors for photography training and tutoring. With the addition of more classes and subjects, nationally known workshop teachers, movie nights and gallery shows it was time for a new website and a new name that more clearly reflected what we were doing. In December, 2014, we became Dallas Center for Photography.
People have asked if our logo means something or contains letters. Nope. We just think it’s a great graphic that somehow gets across the idea of space, frames, symmetry, direction, energy and even looks a little like a dog if you squint just right.
It was designed by Sanja D., a designer we found through Elance, the online creative portal. When asked where she came up with the idea this was her response. (We couldn’t have wished for a better creation story for our DCP logo!)
I was very much interested in photography when I was a kid in the early ’80s. I think that back then it was both an art and a craft. My friend’s dad had a dark room, and we spent countless hours there – mostly ruining our films ;-). In the darkroom the only thing you really cared about was not to expose the negative to any source of light.
Around that time I got a Polaroid camera and was more than happy to see my photos after only 2 minutes. One of our school projects was a “puzzle” made with Polaroid shots. I wanted to combine negative space, object mirroring and regular photos in my project. The pattern in the logo is actually an image that stuck in my mind of re-arranging those Polaroid shots on the table many years ago. I guess one of the ideas behind the logo is remembering that just having a digital camera doesn’t make you a photographer. It takes much more than that…
We’re proud of our website and have gotten compliments since its launch. We had been in the same boat as many small business owners, struggling to find the right designer to build a handsome, functional site. The development for the current website started, as is often the case, with a purchased WordPress theme and a minimal shopping cart plugin. We worked with a talented and meticulous web designer and within a few months had managed to modify every nook and cranny of the site until all remnants of the original theme were gone. The theme was really just a conversation starter.
Intense customization went into getting the Woo Commerce shopping cart to do just we wanted as well as all of the dynamic functions of the class grid, list, community events page etc. The designer’s strength was in her ability to write tricky code that works as well as having the strong design skills to help with a thousand large and small design and user interface decisions. If you’re having as much trouble as we did finding someone good to design your site and would like a referral, then get in touch through the Contact page and we’ll send your information along.
The 6000 sq. ft. building itself was completed in 1986 and was designed from the ground up as a premium studio and shared space for photographers. Peter Poulides purchased the building in 1997 along with an adjacent half-acre parking lot and it became The Spot Studio, Inc. The facility was operated for several years as a rental studio geared toward TV and Film production with a specialty in food styling.
In the last few years it was remodeled and updated and has become home again to still photographers, workshops and other events. It is widely considered to be a great place to shoot by both photographers and their clients and students tell us that it’s the perfect environment for learning about photography.