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Meet the Catalysts: Dallas Center for Photography

Categories: Media & Blog, Media Releases

Meet the Catalysts: Dallas Center for Photography

By Peter Poulides – Executive Director, Dallas Center for Photography

Peter Poulides – Photo courtesy of Dallas Center for Photography

Dallas Center for Photography (DCP) is the only nonprofit in North Texas dedicated exclusively to the art of photography. Our programming is designed to: CONNECT through mentorship and membership; INSPIRE through exhibitions and events; and EXPLORE through education and community outreach. DCP exists to give everyone, including those who otherwise might not have the opportunity, a place to learn, tell their stories, share their creativity, be inspired by others, and build community through the photographic arts.


DCP was founded in 2009 as a for-profit to fill the need in Dallas for quality adult photography education. Over the years, DCP became more involved in community projects and pro bono work for local nonprofits. In 2018 DCP converted to a 501(c)(3) status with the mission to expand the presence of the art of photography in the North Texas community. As a nonprofit charitable organization, DCP operates in more direct response to the community’s needs and has expanded its programming to share the power of photography with many more individuals and groups in North Texas.

The center hosts exhibitions by local artists and groups, nationally known single artists, and work by members and youth. Our community gallery makes photography more accessible as an outlet for expression and storytelling. DCP occupies a custom designed 6,000 sq. ft. building near the Dallas Design District, including a dedicated 900 sq. ft. classroom, a large darkroom for instruction, equipped for up to 10 people to print at once, and an 1,800 sq. ft. professional gallery space. DCP serves our local communities across Dallas/Fort Worth, as well as our global audiences, through thoughtful programming and dedicated outreach.

Photography is the language of modern culture and founder Peter Poulides created DCP with conviction that everyone, whether they create or appreciate photography, can use this unique art form for enjoyment, communication, and self-discovery. Photography is the most democratic of art forms and we all have amazing little story telling devices in our pockets.

BTWHSPVA student Khyla Hassell with her mother, in front of Khyla’s photo at the ‘2021 Photography and Dance Exhibition’

With that mission in mind, DCP collaborated with Booker T Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in 2021 and 2022. Each year our instructor worked with the BTWHSPVA dance and media class over a month long series of sessions. The students were encouraged to use their cell phones to express not what dance looks like to others, but what it feels like to them. Each week they were prompted with a different assignment which helped them use photography to explore their own relationship with dance. The results were extraordinary. The students took creative risks, some executing carefully planned photos, others working spontaneously and going off on tangents, and basically doing what any devoted artist would do.

One student photographed himself breakdancing in different parts of the same location and then composited three of the images together. All of the work was done on his cell phone, tying together the unique blend of accessibility, creativity, art, and technology that differentiated photography from the other arts. One of the most commented on photos in the exhibition is of a young woman, back to the camera, body sunken into a library chair, with her legs in an off-kilter position. It challenges what many think of as dance but gives a glimpse into how prevalent the senses of motion and gesture are to a dancer. The photo is a peek into someone else’s world.

When the students came to the exhibition with their friends and family, it brought home the reason we do what we do at DCP. Their pride of accomplishment and interaction with others at the opening was a beautiful thing to see. At one of our previous open call competitions, a high school student drove in from Mississippi with his family of six to see his photo hanging on a wall. They stayed for over an hour taking pictures of each other standing in front of the framed photo and mingling with others in the show. Something valuable happened to that young man that evening. That’s the power of photography.

Photography can be fun and beautiful, but also challenging, stimulating, and a way for people to communicate across all cultural and geographic barriers. It is the way young people connect but also where they get most of their information. Teaching students of all ages to develop visual literacy allows them to analyze photos and ask the important question: what is the motivation for this photo and why am I seeing it? In a world where branding is so thoroughly blended with culture and entertainment, it’s important for youth to make that differentiation. Our Roots of Photography program is built to start that conversation by showing the students that every time they shoot a photo with their cell phones they are part of the long history of photography and to appreciate how important photos can be. Photography acts as a creative catalyst, bringing together art and technology, creators and appreciators, encouraging personal expression, satisfaction, and pride to anyone wanting to participate.

DCP received a TACA Pop-Up Grant Award for the Photography and Dance Exhibition in July 2021 and its first TACA Catalyst Grant in 2022. Learn more about Dallas Center for Photography at https://dallascenterforphotography.org/.