Experience photography through the lens of hands-on workshops for beginners and enthusiasts or check out an immersive exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography (HCP).

Located in the heart of the Museum District and adjacent to Montrose, HCP was originally founded in 1981 as a small visual artists’ organization.

It has since broadened its mission. Today, the museum works to celebrate and raise awareness about photography, and its evolving role in contemporary culture. 

HCP’s gallery hosts an ongoing stream of exhibitions, showcasing the work of renowned artists, up-and-coming photographers, and even HCP students and community members.

Click here and scroll down to see a current list of exhibitions.

HCP Gallery Interior | Photo: Cody Swann

Visiting the Houston Center for Photography

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by white-wall exhibition area, typical of most art galleries. But beyond this flash impression, the building contains plenty that cater to photography fans. 

At the back of building, HCP’s Learning Center boasts a library packed with all things photo history, plus nine digital workstations to aid visitors’ digital imaging, scanning, and printing needs (and urges).

Nearby, budding photographers can make use of the HCP’s critique room and digital darkroom, both available by appointment and during courses.

HCP Learning Center | Photo: Cody Swann

Workshops & Learning Practical Photography Skills

HCP offers a whopping 300+ photography workshops and classes throughout the year. That means that just about everyone photo-inclined – be they Instagrammers with a good eye, budding amateur photogs, or skilled talents – has the option to brush up their skills.

Workshops range from beginner to master level courses, all encouraging collaboration, stimulating dialogue, and promoting photography through instruction, practice, and exhibition.

Pick and choose course topics that catch your fancy, or opt to follow a designed curriculum guide teaching photography basics.

For newbies, beginner classes range in topics such as camera functions, composition, and digital workflow. If you already know the basics, intermediate classes explore on digital manipulation and how to manipulate and correct images on the camera and computer.

For experts, master classes are offered on weekends. Youth programs, such as teen photography classes and summer camps, are also available.

Click here to view the academic calendar on HCP’s website for classes by seasons.

Neighborhood Photo Ops

If you find the time, take your new-found eye for photography only a short walk away to the nearby lush green lawn of The Menil Collection and its eponymous park.

The park makes for great people-watching and photo-snapping. The actual Menil museum across the street make for a terrific source of inspiration.

Menil Park | Photo: Cody Swann

The Flash Drive 

In spring 2014, HCP bought an out-of-service ambulance with the intent to take its classes and exhibitions on the road. After its exterior was re-envisioned as a camera, the vehicle was dubbed the Flash Drive. It debuted in the May 2014 Houston Art Car Parade on Allen Parkway.

The Flash Drive boasts a working camera obscura – an optical device developed in the 9th and 10th century by artists and architects to capture images of their environments.

When it makes appearances at Houston schools, students learn about the science of the camera obscura and how how optics, photography, and history intersect.

Flash Drive | Photo: Cody Swann

Houston Center for Photography

HCP Exterior facing Mandell Street | Photo: Cody Swann

Additional reporting by Christine Ko

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Cody Swann is a writer and musician born and raised in Houston. When he isn't recording or touring the country with his band, Wild Moccasins, he can be found covering live music and arts events for 365 Things to Do in Houston.