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Penumbra Foundation Center for Alternative Photography

In 2001, The Center for Alternative Photography (CAP) opened its doors in the heart of a midtown district with rich photographic history (Abraham Lincoln came here to be photographed). Run by the non-profit Penumbra Foundation, the center focuses on alternative and historic techniques. In the words of  Executive Director Geoffrey Berliner, “People are forgetting what photography is and where it came from. In a photo-based world, it is important to understand the history of photography. ” In this spirit, the Center educates, exhibits, and provides support for artists. When I visited in 2013, the center was planning a series on how the depiction of war has changed over time. Walking into the space, I also passed through a tintype studio, where one can have his or her portrait taken using the same methods as were used in the mid 1800s. The event space houses an artist lecture series in an effort to delve deeper into the photographic works. Recurring shows showcase daguerreotype, toy camera, and alternative techniques. The “In Conversation” lecture series has photographers and artists of different disciplines bring in their work to discuss and gain more perspective. A particularly powerful “In Conversation” lecture recently paired up Andrew Moore (whose pictures of urban decay in Detroit find romance in the otherwise decrepit parts of the city), with Philip Levine, a poet who sympathetically describes blue-collar Detroit.