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 is a 501(c)(3) federal tax-exempt non-profit educational organization 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 Thornbery, all rights reserved.

Special Interest Groups

Open only to members, these regular group meetings are organized and managed by our membership, each focusing on specific photographic educational 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, Long Exposure, 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.  

John Lorimer’s Intro to Lightroom class. Photo: Jim Thornbery, all rights reserved.

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, all rights reserved.

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 Featured Photographer.

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 the PhotoMidwest Festival, a biennial photography festival which includes a juried photography exhibit, additional exhibits around Dane County, presentations/workshops, and other events. The Festival takes place in October of even numbered years (including 2018!)

Renowned photographer Sam Abell introduces his discussion of jurying a photography exhibit at the 2012 PhotoMidwest Festival. Photo: Eloisa Callender, all rights reserved.


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.

10th Biennial PhotoMidwest 2018 Juried Exhibition, Overture Center for the Arts, Gallery I. Photograph by Mike R. Anderson, all rights reserved.


PhotoMidwest is located at 700 Rayovac Dr. on the west side of Madison, WI.  In addition to our public open gallery every Saturday from 12 - 4 pm (except on holiday weekends), our facilities include a large meeting room, a wet darkroom, and the digital lab with 17" and 24" printers, scanners for film or prints, mat cutters, and a 24" Rotatrim rotary trimmer. The Gallery & Digital Lab are open Saturdays, 12 - 4 pm, except on holiday weekends. Members who have successfully completed the appropriate PhotoMidwest classes or equivalent can use the facilities whenever the building is open. We have both a 65" flat panel display with HDMI and DisplayPort inputs and also an LCD projector with VGA, HDMI and DisplayPort inputs for use during our meetings and classes.

PhotoMidwest Library

PhotoMidwest’s Library has 100’s of photography books with an online searchable card catalog.