The Penumbra Foundation is a non-profit member supported organization dedicated to preserving historical and emulsion based photography and maintaining its relevance as an artistic and educational tool in the evolving digital age.

Our mission is to be a comprehensive resource for photographers at any level; artists, students, professionals, historians, researchers, conservationists and curators who want to learn, practice, and research these photographic arts and processes. We also endeavor to continue to publicize the impact photography has had and continues to have on culture, history and the arts.

Our goals are to develop a community-based organization that will make available our resources to the greater photographic community, general public, members, students, educators, artists, photographers, professionals, like-minded organizations and institutions, and to develop more programs that fulfill our mission.

These resources include:

  • The Center for Alternative Photography (CAP) is our workshop based educational program developed 10 years ago from which the Penumbra Foundation was established. CAP teaches historical, emulsion, and alternative photographic processes.
  • Our 11,000 square foot facility on East 30th Street, which includes traditional and alternative photography darkrooms as well as access to a commercial photo lab that has full array of services from film processing to large scale optical and digital printing capabilities.
  • Gallery spaces and web based gallery.
  • Classrooms, event spaces including a rooftop deck and recently constructed natural north light portrait studio.
  • Library with original 19th and early 20th century primary source materials with many rare formulary manuals and periodicals to be archived online for member and general public access.
  • On site and online store to provide formulary and equipment as well as related products, books and publications.
  • Research facilities.

Through our educational programs at Penumbra, we aim to broaden the palette of artistic and visual communication tools available to photographers, artists, and visual communicators. We teach photography comprehensively, starting from its invention (e.g. Daguerreotype, Calotype), through to the digital age. In the future we hope to develop MFA and Certificate programs and to offer emulsion based educational curricula to educational institutions that are dismantling their darkrooms but still understand the importance and necessity of teaching emulsion based photography as an educational tool to their students.

We are currently partnering with like-minded organizations, which include the ICP (International Center for Photography), YPA (Young Photographers Alliance), Cdags (Contemporary Daguerreotypes) and PhotovilleNYC.

An essential part of Penumbra’s mission is to offer outreach in the form of teaching photography to those in financial need; our mission will include public schools, offering our curriculum to educational institutions that no longer offer emulsion based photographic programs, and an Artist in Residence program. Penumbra’s other community based outreach programs include artist’s lectures and regular salons so that our members and the general public can get involved with the topics and issues of the day on a regular and informal basis.

New York City attracts people from all around the world. We consider ourselves to be an international organization and are uniquely located in the historic New York Photo district. Our offices and center on East 30th street, reside just around the corner from where the famous 291 Gallery created by Alfred Stieglitz was housed. We are not far from the Chelsea art gallery district and the High Line, which are just crosstown and within walking distance.