Farewell to Newspace Center for Photography

Newspace Center for Photography in Portland, OR closed this week. For the local photography community, it’s a sudden and disappointing loss.

It was the only public darkroom between Olympia, WA and San Francisco. Their classes, while not inexpensive, were a mosaic of delights. Nowhere else in PDX do I know of a place where I can learn how to make a Digital-to-Darkroom Silver Platinum Print.

Their digital lab is something that can be had through many other printing services. But not for the same reasonable price. Nor is it hands-on, like it was at Newspace. My best large inkjet prints are ones that I made. Now that option is gone, unless I’m willing to invest a significant amount into a large inkjet printer.

The greatest thing about it was community. I loved being in the darkroom, with other film photographers. I bought my mother a senior membership, and after a long absence, she returned to photography. People I met in classes, were part of what made it enjoyable. Exposure to their work and ideas, was always a big reason to go.

All ages and skill levels were welcome. There was something for everybody. Kids, seniors, anyone. A friend of mine taught a class there for children who are sick with cancer. Newspace wasn’t only a photography facility, it was a community partner.

I was fortunate to have a print in the 2016 Member Show. It was a nice moment on opening night, seeing so many people happy to support local photographers. Had I known that Newspace would close now, I would have savored it even more.

But there was no sign of this coming. In hindsight, there did seem to be less and less use of Newspace facilities last year… at least when I was there. Word is less people were signing up for classes. Gentrification, rising costs-of-living, and traffic could’ve played a role in decreased attendance.

Combine this all with less funding and the changing nature of photography markets. Now it becomes understandable why it closed, albeit not easier to accept.

Newspace was an oasis for the dying art of film photography. Film still lives on in PDX at Blue Moon Camera & Machine, but no longer will I have access to a darkroom.

I was never interested in going back to analog full-time – my digital is way ahead of my film. But while businesses do close and obsolescence was part of the darkroom, I’m happy to have spent time in it. Too have that experience again, perhaps for the last time, was worth it to me.

To the Newspace staff and volunteers, thank you.

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Michael of Street Roots

street photography and portraits Portland Oregon
Michael, Street Roots newspaper vendor. Portland, Oregon. Photo by Paul Ottaviano. All rights reserved.

Street Roots is local newspaper in Portland, Oregon advocating for community interests. In particular, they’re a strong voice for homeless people and families.

From their website:

“Street Roots creates income opportunities for people experiencing homelessness and poverty by producing a newspaper and other media that are catalysts for individual and social change.”

Homeless people can work as street vendors. Each paper is $1. It’s more than a bargain, in my opinion, because I think it’s one of the best newspapers around here. I wouldn’t mind paying more for it.

During my March 29, 2016 photo walk around Downtown Portland I met Michael S., a Street Roots vendor. I bought a paper from him and he was kind enough to let me shoot his portrait. It’s photography such as this that I’m most proud of.

 

 

 

 

Portland’s Mardi Gras Parade

To say the Portland’s Mardi Gras Parade was a colorful and jubilant affair last night, would be an understatement. The fashion and people cutting loose to the brass bands was thrilling to see, and experience. It’s always fun when pedestrians and culture reclaim a street in a good way. Next year I will probably leave the camera at home, and join in the festivities.

Parade Gallery