Photographic Center Northwest
Facilitates creation, conversations, and experiences of significant photography.
The Organization was founded in the early 1980s and was originally named the Exposure School of Photography, then later called the Northwest Center for Photography.
A.K. Shethar purchased the organization in 1988, renamed it Photographic Center Northwest, and served as President of the organization from 1988 until 1999. During this period, Ms. Shethar and board leaders at that time oversaw the transformation of the organization into the non-profit it is today. The Center became an accredited institutional member of the National Association of Schools of Art and Design in 1996. In 1997, the Center relocated from its downtown and Greenlake locations into a 1920’s ambulance building located in the heart of the Capitol Hill neighborhood in Seattle which has been renovated to meet the needs of contemporary photographers.
Over the past 30 years, Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW) has evolved from a small photography school into a vibrant educational institution.
We will continue to be a beacon for the photographic arts in the Pacific Northwest, drawing students and artists from across the region to participate in classes, workshops and exhibitions. Our strategic goals in the coming years are to build our visibility and involvement in the local arts community while broadening our programs to reach the global photographic community. As we continue to cultivate regional partnerships and community connections, we serve our neighbors in Seattle by providing access to regional, national, and international perspectives through photography. You can play a part in this future. PCNW actively seeks photographers, curators, educators, and partner organizations to help shape our future while providing access to education in the photographic arts.
Our Mission and Vision
Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW) is an educational institution facilitating creation, conversations, and experiences of significant photography. Through our Certificate Program in Fine Art Photography, exhibitions, and an array of public programming we foster dialogue in the region through the global language of today.
Our school serves students of all levels with a full range of coursework in film and digital media, and a rigorous certificate program encompassing theory, aesthetics, and technical mastery. PCNW provides its students and the community with resources that include gallery spaces, darkrooms, studios, a digital lab and library. Through exhibitions, lectures, scholarships, and outreach projects, PCNW provides access to the photographic arts, to professional and amateur photographers, and to the public at large.
Michelle Dunn Marsh
Executive Director & Curator
|Over the last two decades, Michelle served in executive and creative roles in the fields of art photography and publishing. Her commitment to education, collaboration, and achievement of excellence have defined her career and gained her national recognition. Michelle’s professional experience includes fifteen years with Aperture Foundation in New York City, first as a designer and later as deputy director for the organization, and as Co-Publisher of Aperture magazine. She was senior editor of art and design at Chronicle Books, San Francisco, and was a tenured professor in graphic design at Seattle Central Community College. She has recently launched Minor Matters Books, a community publishing platform for contemporary art. Image credit: Sylvia Plachy|
|With a background as an image-maker and an ongoing affinity for creating with analogue and alt processes, Terry has in the last five years professionally focused on partnerships, grants, programs and events that foster financial support for photographers, significant photography, and PCNW. She brings a clear understanding of what funders look for in considering resource allocations and leverages that to bring resources and visibility to PCNW. Terry is a co-chair of the Capitol Hill Arts District and a member of the Fundraising for the Arts Task Force. She received her BFA in photography from Columbia College Chicago, and an MFA in arts administration from Seattle University.|
|Jennifer Brendicke, a graduate of PCNW’s certificate program, has served in various roles over the last ten years including as an administrative associate, education and outreach coordinator, Associate Director and Registrar.|
|Eirik contributes to our vision as explored through our certificate program, continuing education, and public programs. Eirik is an accomplished artist and has exhibited his work nationally at the Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, and the Aperture Foundation in New York among others. He has received numerous awards, including the 2012 Neddy at Cornish Award in Open Medium. His work is in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Seattle Art Museum, and the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY; two monographs of his work have been published and he is represented locally by the G. Gibson Gallery.|
Public Programs Coordinator
|Originally from San Diego, Erin Spencer moved to Seattle in 1994, and soon after began a career in fine art photography administration. She was the gallery director at Benham Gallery for eight years, and joined the staff at PCNW in 2008 where she has served in various roles. In her current position of Public Programs Coordinator, Spencer oversees the logistics management of all PCNW’s exhibitions, from condition reports through framing, layout, installation, and return of artwork. She works closely with the executive director and manages logistics on a variety of public programs
Spencer has exhibited her own photography all over the United States and in the Czech Republic. In her spare time, she is busy either vintage treasure hunting, or out on the coast, transforming her late 1800s church into a funky second home.
|Facilities Manager Race Dillon recently graduated from The Evergreen State College, where he studied photography and literature. In addition to maintaining PCNW’s facilities, Race teaches photography to inmates at the Washington Corrections Center, and remains active with his own photographic work.|
||Lilly received a BFA in Photography from the University of Washington in 2002. In 2004, she became one of the founding members of the Rat City Rollergirls and helped define their brand and marketing strategies. After a 10 year career in e-commerce photography with Nordstrom, Lilly joined the team at Glazer’s Camera to help them with rebranding and marketing efforts during their transition into their new store. In 2017, she completed a Digital Marketing Course at General Assembly. In her spare time Lilly likes to sew, knit, and garden.|
||Monica was born-and-raised in Seattle and is the proud owner of a black lab puppy named Bella. Monica keeps our books straight and makes sure that all of our faculty and visiting artists get paid on time. She is also an integral part of our fundraising team as we project into the future and manage incoming grants and donations.|
||Born and raised in Las Vegas, Julianne received a degree in commercial photography, with an emphasis in fine art and alternative process photography, from The Art Institute. Julianne’s current photography projects include toy cameras and pinhole cameras. [Image: Maurice Kirejczyk]|
We are grateful to the dozens of volunteers and interns that support our programs throughout the year. Interested in becoming a volunteer? Check our volunteer roles and opportunities.
Honorary Board Members
Alin Shethar, Founder
Board of Trustees
William Holderman, Board Chair
Joined January 2014
William Holderman is Gastroenterologist and Senior Partner with Digestive Health Specialists based in Tacoma, Washington. His interest in photography began in high school where he served as staff photographer and editor of his high school yearbook. He deeply appreciates the art and craft of photography having spent many hours in his home darkroom developing and printing images from his Nikon F. He and his wife, Lisa collect 20th Century vintage and contemporary photography, photographic monographs, and ephemera. He is dedicated to the art and artists of the Northwest having served on the Board of Trustees of the Tacoma Art Museum and co-chair of its collection committee. They live in Seattle with their two teenage daughters.
Erika J. Nesholm, Vice Chair
Joined April 2018
Erika Nesholm is the Executive Director of the Nesholm Family Foundation, which awards grants in Health and Human Services, Education, and Performing Arts in Seattle. Prior to that, she was a Classics Professor at Williams College, Georgetown University, The College of William and Mary, Kenyon College, and Ohio Wesleyan University. She holds a PhD in Classics from the University of Washington and a Master’s in Education Policy from UW, with particular interest in arts education. Erika is active in the arts community: she serves on the board of ACT Theatre, Arts Corps, and the Community Advisory Board of Classical KING FM.
Bill Hensler, Treasurer
Joined January 2016
Bill Hensler is Chief-Product Owner and Co-Founder of Pixvana, a Seattle-based software start-up building virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) delivery platforms for media and entertainment applications. Bill is an engineering virtuoso responsible for building the core technology on audio and imaging products ubiquitous in the film and video industries, web authoring and digital photography. Apple enjoyed Bill’s tenure as Senior Director of Engineering from 2010-2014, where his engineering, design and research direction for photo applications and image frameworks for the Photos group contributed to the selfie’s worldwide ascent to media domination. Before Apple, Bill spent ten years at Adobe Systems in VPE, GM and Chief Technologist roles. He started by revamping key products like Premiere Pro and After Effects and creating 1.0 versions of Audition, Encore and Media Encoder, hence introducing the first integrated suite of products at Adobe. As the chief technologist for the Creative Business unit he continued leading the engineering, design and research direction for the Digital Video and Digital Publishing businesses. As an engineering leader Bill is a creative force in mixing computer science and art by building engineering and design teams that bring fledgling digital mediums into the mainstay of digital artists’ repertoire.
Greg Beams, Secretary
Joined in 2017
Greg was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and as a partner with EY spent the past 25 years working with companies ranging in size from Fortune 500 technology companies to emerging high growth start-ups. Greg oversees the PNW Entrepreneur of the Year program recognizing Pacific Northwest entrepreneurs making a difference in the local and global community. Greg has a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and has been pursuing fine art photography for the past 20 years. Greg also serves on the Boards of 4Culture, the Washington Technology Industry Association, Apprenti and Girls Can Do.
Frits Haberman, Board Member
Joined January 2017
Product, technology, and UX executive, and currently CPO & CTO, PicMonkey.
Product, technology, and UX executive experienced in creating competitive business, product and technical roadmaps, and highly functional software organizations to support them. Sought-after leader for positioning tech companies at natural inflection points into high-growth businesses. Experienced in creating deep, usable products and building highly collaborative teams. Expertise areas include user interfaces, games, graphics, music, education and photography.
Robert Leykam, Board Member
Joined in 2017
Robert Leykam grew up in West Germany and immigrated to the United States in 1987. Robert is an architect, whose work encompasses a broad range of projects on three continents from private homes to airport terminals and corporate campuses. He is a Senior Associate at NBBJ, a global design firm based in Seattle. Robert also holds a Certificate in Commercial Real Estate from the University of Washington, has served with organizations dedicated to community development and affordable housing, and currently co-chairs the Seattle International Architecture Forum. He has also advised on artist selection panels for building-integrated art programs in the Puget Sound region.
Marilyn Mason, Board Member
Joined in 2014
Years ago Marilyn worked as a photojournalist in Washington DC. Later she became Director of Libraries for the cities of Atlanta and Cleveland and founded a not-for-profit service called WebJunction to provide online training for library staff. During that period she continued to shoot but became more a collector than a creator of photography. About ten years ago Marilyn rediscovered her passion for creating photographic art and began updating her skills with workshops like those offered by PCNW. She is a strong believer in the power of photography to shape the way we experience the world. Her work can be viewed on her website: www.mgmasonphotography.com
Kristan Parks, Board Member
Joined in 2016
Born, raised, and educated in Seattle, Kristan has spent the last 20 years pursuing her love of glass blowing through classes and events at both Pilchuck Glass School and Pratt Fine Arts Center. More recently, a life-long love of photography led her to Photographic Center Northwest, where she has been a member of and taken classes and workshops since 2012. In addition to glass and photography, she has designs and builds gardens and privately cooks for others. Currently, she is working on building The Goodness Report, an online platform she has developed featuring images and content of personal work and passions, as well as an aggregate for all things good.
Adam L. Weintraub, Board Member
Joined December 2013
Adam L. Weintraub is a professional photographer and serial entrepreneur who proudly hails from Seattle. For more than 10 years, his PhotoExperience.net workshops and photo tours have been offering insight and creative collaboration in an intimate setting throughout South America. He has coordinated efforts to create a permanent archive of the famed Peruvian indigenous photographer, Martin Chambi. Adam is a past three-term President and 8 term Director of Blue Earth Alliance; he is widely published, collected, hired and admired for his personal work. His book, Vista Andina, offers a contemporary photographic perspective on the Andean region of Peru. Adam’s current pet-project is the Museo del Pisco in Cusco, bringing this magical elixir to the masses.
Elise Willis, Board Member
Joined in 2017
Elise Willis is an internal medicine physician at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, and is thrilled to be on the board at PCNW. While growing up in Puyallup she was exposed early on to the importance that art plays in leading a well rounded, fulfilling life. She is a new student of photography and photo collecting, and hopes to take full advantage of PCNW’s many classes and offerings. Her husband Michael is an avid photographer, and together they love to explore local and far-flung places.