I was simply seeking a community of photographers, a community that reflected the San Francisco I live in, a kaleidoscope of photographers of every level, skill and discipline.
From the beginner to the skilled veteran shooter of every age and gender. An engaging community not afraid to explore the light, and the endless varieties of imagery possible. A community of learning new (and old) visual and technical knowledge, available to all willing to step in the doors.

I found all of this and more, with the added bonus of meeting some very remarkable photographers at the Harvey Milk Photo Center, the oldest photo center west of the Mississippi. There I’ve seen on the Center’s gallery walls some of the best images west of anywhere. The geographical center of San Francisco is just a short distance away in the 700 block of Corbett, so some say, but the photographic center of San Francisco is the Harvey Milk Photo Center, 50 Scott. St., San Francisco.

Dwayne N.

“I really appreciate the welcoming vibe at Harvey Milk Photo Center. I’ve grown up taking pictures in San Francisco; dipping in an out of the practice over the years. It’s great to be able to depend on this community resource – brushing up on my skill set with workshops, or taking advantage of their equipment for an upcoming exhibition – the Photo Center has always shown support. In addition, their gallery continues to host the most inspiring work! I’m a better photographer thanks to Harvey Milk!”

Melissa G.

“I am a new film lover. I love being in the darkroom and watching images floating out of paper. I am volunteering here because I think Harvey Milk Photo Center provides a perfect community for all photographers to come together being creative and share and talk and doing what we always love.”

Qi Z.
Member & Volunteer

I have always enjoyed photography and was looking for a volunteer opportunity where I would be able to learn more about it. The Harvey Milk Photo Center made this possible for me. I really enjoy being part of their community, it’s a nice place to hang around, help out, talk to other photographers and see their work. Also the different gallery exhibitions are really inspiring. I started taking photographs myself again, learned how to develop my films and get to experience the excitement when seeing the results. The staff and all the members are super friendly and I learn something new and interesting every time.

Ruch C.

“The learning community here is unparalleled. When I tried to develop my first roll of film in nearly 10 years, members and staff didn’t hesitate to help. I’ve forged many friendships here at HMPC, and volunteering is an engaging way for me to keep the community going.”

Shannon A.
Member and Volunteer

“The Harvey Milk Photo Center is a great place to see world- class exhibits featuring work by well- known photographers as well as emerging local talent.  The staff and volunteers at the Photo Center are friendly, knowledgeable, and offer a wide variety of classes and programs to fit any skill level.”

Skot J.

The Harvey Milk Photo Center is a truly unique place — the resources you will find here are amazing. If you would like to learn BW printing there is no better place to acquire the skills to get you started or further your education with one of the advanced classes. It is way more than a dark room facility; it is a community of people who deeply care about the art of photography and are happy to share their knowledge.

Martin M.

“The Harvey Milk Photo Center has completely revitalized my photography. I’ve always enjoyed shooting film, but learning to make prints in the darkroom has been like discovering the missing piece of the puzzle. The staff, volunteers, and other members are an invaluable resource – always happy to provide advice and guidance from many years of experience. To me, this place is San Francisco’s best kept secret – a little haven where film photography continues to thrive.”

Nishad J.

“I moved to the Bay Area from Chicago in late 2012 and quickly became involved in the photography community. One of the first pieces of advice I received was to go check out the Harvey Milk Photo Center, and I’m very glad I followed that advice. I’ve enjoyed the classes, the lecture series, the ongoing exhibits and the knowledgeable staff. And the darkroom is a photographer’s dream! I had to join.”

Jim W.
Member & Volunteer

“Volunteering at Harvey milk Photo Center for me is about being part of a community brought together by a passion for photography. It is about stepping outside the boundaries of being an individual photographer and sharing with others what you know and providing support to them. In the process of doing so, I got to learn things I wouldn’t have otherwise – gallery exhibition installation, community darkroom support, interesting discussions on the medium of photography with other photographers, staff and members of the photo center, and so on.  

As a volunteer I get to use the facilities of the photo center, which is great. Helps me make incremental progress on my projects. The staff is very welcoming and supportive, which make this whole process of contributing to the photo community a fun and engaging experience. The opportunity to be part of a group exhibit and solo exhibit has been a rewarding experience for me here at the Harvey Milk Photo Center. 

The time I have spent here as a volunteer has helped me grow personally and professionally, and will no doubt be useful in the future.”

Anand J.

“The reason why I signed up to volunteer at HMPC was its 75-year long history together with their excellent reputation in the photo community. After I joined, I found so much more! From the largest community darkroom on the West coast  by friendly patrons through extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff to wonderful exhibitions and so-much-needed classes for public. Whether you go there to volunteer, study, or develop your own films, you will not want to leave that place!”

Lenka S.

“As I write and reflect upon this testimonial on the eve of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, remembering with heavy-heart Dr. King’s mission of squashing human divide based on racial difference and letting the words from his moving speech replay through my mind, I am reminded of another great man similarly taken form us in acts of sheer and cowardly violence – Harvey Milk.

In honoring the sacrifices of both these heroic men, I am invigorated in pressing forward – not back. I believe their powerful stands and accomplishments should never be forgotten as they surely set about a rippling wave of empathy, compassion, and certainty of what is right and just and flows briskly into my own fight TODAY.

This politically slippery time in our history, more so than ever, demands that we uplift, preserve, and passionately lead like these great men before us who offered to us the gifts of equality though sacrifice of their own lives. Their vital contributions furthered our equal right to education, shelter and community in safe places none more important then The Harvey Milk Photo & Recreation Center. A leading cornerstone of arts programming since the early 1940’s, The Harvey Milk Photo Center (formerly The San Francisco Photography Center), as stated in its bio, is the oldest public darkroom in the United States offering unique programs and ongoing exhibitions showcasing the wide creative talents and unique viewpoints of its membership enmeshed in the proud legacy of Harvey Milk. It is imperative that this essential institution and what it offers thrives for our community and it remain a telling monument of our strength and resilience in the face of opposition and hate and troubled times such as these.

Those of us who have come to The Harvey Milk Center have found a safe haven, whether we found a reassuring smile as we dodged the rain, warmed ourselves on chilly days, or caught our breath after a run in the park; whether we took classes from world-class teachers, or taught classes to share our skills, and ended up learning greater lessons from our students; whether we shared a glance, rendezvoused with friends or surprised ourselves and discovered that we weren’t garbage after all and that we too have talent and promise in the creative arts, or were brightened on a particularly blue or difficult day; whether we printed out our failing memories, said ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ to faces on canvas or photographic paper, laughed at our colorful absurdities or flamboyant brilliance, wandered aimlessly the halls or rooms on days we were lost, gazed at titillating or contemplative works, or simply reflected about our own humanity, having come to the conclusion that we do have an irreplaceable place in this world just like the Center. The Center is, in fact, our home.”

Sean B.
Photographer, Advocate