What is PhotoMidwest?

To connect, educate and inspire all who create, support, and appreciate photography as a means to personal expression, throughout the Midwest.
— The PhotoMidwest Mission

PhotoMidwest was founded in 1998 as the Center for Photography at Madison to provide a home for photographic advancement in Madison and southern Wisconsin. Renamed in 2014 to reflect members interest in the growing Midwestern photographic community, PhotoMidwest and our biennial PhotoMidwest Festival is a volunteer organization providing a rich mix of education programs, including formal classes and workshops, lectures, exhibitions, and a series of regularly scheduled informal meetings of members and guests to discuss myriad photography topics.

Why did we change our name?

After 17 years as The Center for Photography at Madison, why did we decide to change our name to PhotoMidwest? It wasn't an easy decision, but to quote a little fortune cookie philosophy, "We must become the change we want to see."

To bring more value to our members, we realized that we needed to activate and connect the resources that already exist in the Midwest. We needed to change the way people think about the Midwest, which represents far more artistically than merely the space between the coasts.

But the Midwest is a large area, and although there are many active groups dedicated to photography, they are largely disconnected. There are hundreds of professional photography educators in the region, but their talents remain largely focused in their local communities. Through our biennial PhotoMidwest Festival we've tried for many years to start a conversation within the region; but once every two years isn't enough. We need to step up our own game, to become the change we want to see.

How do we do this?

Nature Group meeting. Photo: Jim Thornbury

Special Interest Groups

Open only to members, these regular group meetings are organized and managed by our membership, each focusing on specific photographic interests or topics.

Held monthly at different nights so members can attend as many groups as they wish, current special interest groups include Human Interest, Landscape, Black & WhiteNature, Alternography, Travel and a Women's interest group are currently scheduled.

All members are welcome, and prospective members are welcome to join us to check out the group.  

Bob Beaverson (model) and Kurt Westbrook work on studio portraits. Photo: Eloisa Callender

Photography Instruction

Classes occur throughout the year, and are open to members and non-members alike. Through weekly evening classes and intensive weekend or week-long workshops, both in the studio and on location, experienced instructors guide participants in photographic methods and styles in a friendly, supportive environment. Assignments are common, with critique focusing on image successes and weaknesses, always working toward a shared goal of learning from all class members. See classes for upcoming offerings.


Third Thursday lecture at the PhotoMidwest Studio. Photo: Eloisa Callender

Monthly Guest Lectures

The first and third Thursday of every month feature free public events at the PhotoMidwest Studios.

On the first Thursday, join us for the artist talk and opening reception of each month's Photographer of the Month.

Then on the third Thursday we feature lectures by local and visiting experts in a wide-ranging series of topics regarding the photographic arts.

Find information about these lectures series and other special events in Education: Events & Lectures.

Flagship Events

To further our aim of bringing the Midwestern photographic community together, PhotoMidwest organizes and hosts a biannual photography festival, which includes a series of lectures, workshops and exhibits. Centered in Madison, distinguished speakers from across the Midwest and around the country are featured. The Festival takes place in October of even numbered years (including 2014!)

Renowned photographer Sam Abell introduces his discussion of jurying a photography exhibit in 2012. Photo: Eloisa Callender


PhotoMidwest sponsors other Exhibits throughout the year. In the Spring, the Annual Members Exhibition is exhibited at UW-Madison Hospital. Other PhotoMidWest sponsored exhibitions can be found under Exhibits. Individual members and member-groups organize exhibits of their photographic work at many places during the year. These exhibitions can be found by reading the Announcements.

Seven States Exhibit at the Porter Butts Gallery, Memorial Union, PhotoMidwest Festival 2012. Photo: Eloisa Callender


PhotoMidwest shares gallery, classroom and studio space with several area professional photographers at the Paterson Street Studio in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. In addition to our public open gallery every Sunday from 12 - 4 pm, our facilities include members-only access to our wet dark room (by appointment) and digital print lab (Sundays, 12 - 4 pm) . The Studio has an LCD projector with VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort inputs for use during our meeting and classes.