A couple of guys named Nick are starting a place in Troy for all things photographic. Nicholas Argyros, 63, and Nicholas Reinert, 25, are partners in the Photography Center of the Capital District, a project more than a year in the making that will launch with a grand opening from 1 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 9. Conceived as a membership organization for professionals and amateurs alike, the Photography Center is located at 404 River St. in a historic three-story building just north of downtown Troy and across from Revolution Hall. The space will house a variety of offerings for the public and services for members, including:
An exhibition space for photo shows
A photography museum with more than 100 vintage cameras from the 19th and 20th centuries
A library of 3,000 photography books and periodicals and an archive of countless images
Workstations with computers, scanners, printers and other equipment
Workshops on photography techniques and classes in new technology
A retail space with photography film and supplies, plus a selection of secondhand cameras
Argyros says the top goal is that the center be a place for community, "where photographers from all avenues - journalists, academics, commercial, fine art, or hobbyists - can participate and feel welcome."
The scope and ambition of the center are sometimes difficult to convey, says Reinert, but that's only until he gives a tour. After people see the facilities and their potential, "We get a lot of `Wows,' he says.
A painter and photographer, Reinert has been a regular presence in regional art activist groups like Albany Underground Artists and helped produce the now-defunct magazine 200 Proof. He serves as the center's director and also keeps an apartment in the building.
Argyros, the center's founder, is a self-taught photographer who is consumed with the art form. "From childhood, I was fascinated by reading images and the way cameras transform reality," he says. "Many people think of photography as depicting reality, but a photo becomes its own thing."
Almost all of the center's inventories come from Argyros' many years of collecting. "My wife was happy to have all the junk carted out of the house," he says. Likewise, the center's start-up costs have been covered by his retirement funds after a career in the state Department of Education.
Although Argyros has long carried in his mind the vision of the Photography Center, he says it will come into focus through the participation of members. "They will help shape what it's going to be and do," he says.
Annual membership dues range from $35 to $100. More than 60 local photographers have already joined. Among them is Gail Nadeau, a full-time artist who regularly exhibits her photos.
"Nick (Argyros) is one of those people you don't forget ... There's a kindness about him that lingers," says Nadeau. "He approached me at some point (about the center) and I thought it was fantastic. I became a member on the spot."
She adds that Photography Center's emphasis on education brings to mind the Maine Workshops, an illustrious summer academy of the photographic arts founded in 1973.
Another charter member is Ken Deitcher, a retired Albany pediatrician and avid camera buff. Like many photographers currently working in the digital realm, Deitcher grows frustrated with the need for new high-priced equipment and sees the center as a welcome resource. "You have the whole process right there, complete in one place," he says.