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37 Reviews
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October 18, 2012

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October 18, 2012

I signed up for a introductory camera class at the CPC in January of 2011 without ever owning a real camera. In less than two years, I have already been able to have my photos exhibited in shows both here and in London, England. All of that made possible by the hard work and commitment of the wonderful instructors and staff at The Chicago Photography Center. I know is sounds cliche to say that an experience is life changing, but my life has been enriched beyond belief, thanks to the CPC. Not only can I say that the CPC made me the photographer that I am today, but I can also say that it has helped me grow as an individual and has opened the door to opportunities I never knew existed.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

April 4, 2012

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April 4, 2012

I took several classes at CPC and still coming back for more. Highly recommend!!

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How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

March 26, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

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March 26, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

I attended Photo 1-3 from 2008-2009. Initially I felt attending these classes was a valuable experience. Very quickly things began to change for the worse. I had no idea why the Photo 1 instructer was asked to leave and no reason was given. What was explained was that the school was headed in a different direction and that it was time for change. What has seemed to change is the students no longer seem to be the number one priority. I was made to feel out of place and not good enough to show my work. I compared my experience with a friend that attended Photo 1 in 2010. He also expressed dissapointment in that the school is not interested in promoting students work or showcasing it, for that matter. This school is only interested in promoting the work of the staff. What sense does that make?! I have been shooting as a hobby over 11 years and have attended many different photography classes including workshops and college courses. All I can say is this place isn't worth the time or money.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

None

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

March 23, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

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March 23, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

I began at the CPC as a student in 2008. I was so impressed by the instructors and staff that I continued on as a volunteer for several years. Recently I was asked to join the board as an outside director, which I consider an honor and a privilege. In my personal experience, the CPC does wonderful work as a community center and school.

I've been particularly impressed by the diversity and commitment of the instructors at the CPC, and the wide range of activities and courses the Center sponsors. The Center offers a very wide range of classes, starting from introductory film and digital classes and running up through advanced courses in special techniques or subjects (such as street photography and tabletop photography). It also teaches digital post-processing techniques, both as part of the standard courses and as separate specialty classes. On top of that, the CPC also continually develops new courses to meet student demand. Recent additions include cellphone photography (something community members have clamored for) and courses for budding professionals who want to learn how to earn a living through photography. The faculty is made up of photographers with a wide variety of backgrounds, such as fine-arts, commercial, and street photographers. Many are professionals, while others are long-time enthusiasts sharing their love of the art.

The CPC is not just a school, though. It uses its courses and its gallery space to conduct community outreach. Recently, it has used gallery shows to give exposure to young Iraqi photographers, local tattoo artists, Chicago high school students, and a wide variety of professional photographers from Chicago and beyond. An upcoming show will showcase the work of a local photojournalist who documented the lives of Cambodian women, and also photography by some of those women (including a schoolteacher and a survivor of the sex industry). It also has a residency program used to support local young artists as they develop their portfolios. Another outreach program teaches film photography and darkroom development to local high school students. They learned more than just photography—they apprenticed in every role in the process, learning how to manage and run an efficient studio. They also created wonderful work that the CPC was very proud to exhibit.

One of the most impressive outreach programs focuses on local homeless and otherwise disadvantaged individuals. The program gives these people cameras so that they can document their daily lives. The CPC then exhibits their work at a special fundraiser. This serves several important functions. First, it gives the disadvantaged photographers an artistic voice—very few of these people would have had the opportunity to create this sort of art otherwise. Second, it gives them an audience for that voice. The exhibition connects the photographers with gallery visitors from the local community, as well as the CPC’s traditional students. This gives the viewers a new insight into the lives of their disadvantaged neighbors. Third, because many of the photographs focus on the institutions that provide day-to-day support for the artists (such as food banks and shelters), it gives those critical support centers much-needed exposure and publicity. The program integrates all these various levels of the community. It is a wonderful example of how the CPC has identified a unique role in supporting and connecting its community, and shows how a nonprofit community school is fundamentally different from for-profit photography schools.

Given the quality of the CPC’s instruction and community outreach, and its deep support from the community, I was very surprised by the negative reviews here. I was less surprised when I realized that they all appear to have been written by one or two individuals spinning off anonymous identities for. (At the time I am writing this, all but one of the negative reviews are from brand-new accounts that have never commented on any other nonprofit. That may change as the writer tries to create more credible fronts for his attacks on the CPC.) These reviews are all very similar to each other in tone and substance. They also strongly resemble bitter emails that an anonymous individual sent to CPC faculty and staff some time ago.

Nothing in these poisonous attacks is at all consistent with my experience as a student, volunteer, or board member. For example, based on my personal knowledge of the CPC’s finances, the critic’s comment (made in almost identical terms under several user names) that “stakeholders in the CPC have lost a total of almost $400,000” is absolutely false. It is not technically inaccurate, or slightly misleading, or a little bit wrong—it is an absolute lie. I suspect for various reasons that the anonymous critic has a personal grudge against specific leaders at the CPC, as you can see from his or her namedropping. Moreover, I believe that the critic may be the owner of a local for-profit photography school that competes with the CPC for students. If I am correct, then the critic’s primary motive appears to be to attack his or her competition by tarring the CPC’s reputation with anonymous attacks. For example, at least one of these comments blatantly asks readers to google competing for-profit photography classes in the Chicago area, and advertises their facilities.

I would be very disappointed if that were true, because I cannot fathom the mindset of a business owner who would attempt to increase their profits by anonymously slandering a competing non-profit. But I cannot discern any other reason for a sudden crop of viciously negative, factually false, and stylistically identical reviews appearing overnight in a coordinated attack on a non-profit community center and arts school.

In the end, anonymous comments on the internet are worth what you paid for them. I am proud to sign my own name to my endorsement of the CPC, and I encourage you to contact me with any questions. Furthermore, I encourage any reader interested in learning more about the CPC to visit its website (chicagophoto.org) or visit it in person at 3301 N. Lincoln Ave. Any visitor will quickly see why we are so proud of our students, staff, and faculty.

Sincerely,
Colin McRoberts

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The CPC taught me everything I know about photography. More importantly, it deepened my commitment to the community, both by exposing me to local artists and introducing me to local students and faculty.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Like any nonprofit, the CPC always has material needs--newer computers, better lighting, etc. More fundamentally, I'd like to see the CPC increase enrollment in the specialty courses.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

How did you learn about this organization?

By googling for photography classes.

March 23, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

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March 23, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

After meeting a number of people who volunteer/work at the CPC, I've been consistently impressed with their dedication to the center, its classes, and their other programs. Having gone shooting with a number of past students and faculty, most have had nothing but positive feedback regarding their experience with the center. That's been a big reason why I've donated to the CPC in the past, and will continue to do so in the future.
Some reviews seem to focus on the internal politics of the center's past, or address the lack of a "star" photographer associated with the center. To me, that isn’t important. I evaluated three things before donating; 1) Is the CPC advancing photographic art in Chicago through education, outreach programs, and other events, 2) Do their plans for the future include expanding those programs to meet the changing needs of the community, and 3) Are they providing a needed benefit/service to the local community.
To me, all three questions were answered with a resounding yes.

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Was your donation impactful?

Likely

How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

Definitely

How likely are you to donate to this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

March 23, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

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March 23, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

I once volunteered with this organization, and took a variety of classes. I even exhibited my work there. But it's changed in recent years and I no longer want to be a part of what they do. I don't know why Karen E. would refer to comments as “defamatory, libelous and untrue”-.- the person was speaking the truth about the organization's default. Maybe Karen wasn't there when the initial deal was made and prefers to concentrate only on "current affairs". I was there, I saw what happened. This organization has a checkered past, with obligations they are not meeting.
I understand that the current Board is not going to advertise these behind-the-scenes problems. But prospective students should know that the organization isn’t on the soundest of foundations.
Aside from all that, I have found other schools in Chicago for photography classes where the emphasis is placed much more on student work, not that of professionals. If you are looking for a place to begin (or continue) your own photographic journey, and are interested in showing your own work in a public gallery, CPC may not be right for you. My work has been exhibited at other photography galleries in Chicago. I have taken classes at other schools where the concentration is on teaching fundamental through advanced photographic skills and digital printing. They have sophisticated digital labs with excellent computers and printers. They employ very experienced and gifted teachers whose goal is to bring out the very best in their students’ work. These teachers aren’t involved because they want to exhibit their own work, they are involved because they want to encourage and inspire students. Do a search for "photography classes in Chicago", and read websites from other schools. CPC is by no means the only game in town.

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

No

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A little

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

March 23, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

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March 23, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

The CPC stands at the forefront of bringing interesting, diverse exhibits into the neighborhood. I've had the delight of attending their gallery openings and fundraisers, and have found them to be a worthwhile cause. Although I don't take pictures, a number of my friends have taken classes at the CPC. Their feedback is that the courses are well-organized, and the instructors really know their stuff. A true asset to Chicago!

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Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

March 23, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

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March 23, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

I have been a number of things to the Chicago Photography Center. I am an ongoing student and member of the Chicago Photography Center Community. I am a volunteer as well. Let me say that I was solicited by CPC to write a review in answer to some harsh criticisms of CPC that seem to have little to do with the programming but seem to be coming from disgruntled people who have an agenda and have not taken recent classes at CPC. I find some of the criticism amusing i.e. the board having food and wine at board meetings which occur around the dinner hour and can go on until 9 or 10 p.m. (I have made presentations at board meetings and have had to sit through them. I was very grateful that they offered a sandwich and individual board members did bring a bottle of wine to share but more often cokes, water and coffee were the proffered refreshment.)
I don’t know anything about the real estate issues but that seems to be a legal matter that should be worked out by two differing parties and what does that have to do with the quality of the classes??
Now for the quality of the classes – very high, I have taken classes at CPC since 2008. The instructors are highly skilled, the basic classes are well organized and at the appropriate level for the class. Written materials and handouts are clear and well organized.
I came to CPC after going through the Columbia College Photography program. I was looking for a place to use my photo skills and to keep them current. I started taking the advanced classes and can say I have had only positive experiences. The instructors are wonderful and well qualified. They are also willing to help outside of class if someone has a question or technical issue with a project. They have been wonderful and patient with me. I love, love, love the digital lab - computers loaded with Lightroom and Photoshop software and Epson large format printers. If you are a student you can use them for free. If you are a member you pay a small fee. There is also a working darkroom that can be rented or used for free if you are taking a film class. The equipment is kept in great working order and you can almost always get time on a printer etc.
I can only say great things about the gallery which has been constantly improved since I have been participating with CPC. When I first joined the organization the gallery presentations were a bit disorganized and the shows were not very high quality. Over the past two or three years CPC brought in a professional curator (who is now a board member) with very strong ties to the Chicago photography community and what a difference!! The student shows now are strong and have a very professional look and the gallery has showcased national and internationally ranked professional photographers and who not only show their work, but also teach workshops open to CPC students, members and the general public.
Photography is a skill and an art. Photographers need to have this communication and connection with other photographers working in the field. CPC has given Chicago photographers a great community to work within to get what they need – at all levels from amateur to professional photographer.
Finally let me say this. Thank you to the negative reviewers on this site. I really take CPC for granted as they have become a constant resource for me as a photographer trying to develop my fine art photography skills working in Chicago community. Writing this has really made me think about what I get from CPC. I am a member of CPC and I participate in shows and workshops, portfolio reviews and critiques with many different sources and programs to upgrade my photography skills. CPC is a great ongoing resource for me and all Chicago photographers. It is a community of photographers, a place to go and share your passion for photography, learn new skills and see and participate in gallery exhibitions.
I think if you have questions you should go on-line to www.chicagophoto.org and look at the resources offered. If you are interested in learning the basics of photography or you are interested in perfecting your skills CPC is the place to go. But do this look at all the photography schools, look at the curriculum, the classes offered, the facility and the instructors and the cost. Ask questions about the offerings and find out what works for you as an individual photographer. CPC is an inclusive community of photographers and they welcome all inquiries and feedback. I am very happy to be part of the community of photographers at CPC.

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How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A lot

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Quite well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

March 23, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

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March 23, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

Chicago Photography Center provides a great neighborhood alternative to the bigger schools. For those who want to improve their photography skills, in a community environment, without paying a bunch, CPC is a perfect fit. The negative reviews sound like they're from the previous owners who ran it into the ground and now they're jealous that CPC is a valid school doing good things.

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How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Quite well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

A lot

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

March 22, 2012
5 people found this review helpful

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March 22, 2012
5 people found this review helpful

I took several photography classes both before and after their original director was fired. My "after" experience caused me to stop taking classes altogether for several years. The original community of volunteers was replaced by people who paid little attention to learning the basics and perfecting the process and more attention to ... well I don't know what, at the time they were more than a little disorganized.

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How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A little

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Okay

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

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assist in the digital lab or darkroom; assist with data entry; administrative tasks; opening receptions and special events; volunteer scheduling; weekly reports. Volunteer