Dear CPA Members and Friends of Photography,

As President of the CPA Board of Trustees, I am eager to begin looking at our strategic plan and mapping out our vision for the next several years.  This seems like a particularly appropriate time to undertake such a review since we are celebrating the 50th year of our gallery and want to lay the foundations for the next 50.

In thinking about this objective, it is important to look back at the goals and objectives set down by the original founders of the Friends of Photography to see how they hold up today.

Addressing this same question, Nancy Newhall, in her introduction to  the 1st publication of the Friends of Photography wrote:

“We decided to found a society, national and even international in scope, whose purpose should serve as the long-dreamed-of center, bringing in outstanding talent from everywhere…… The membership should include not only practicing photographers but musicians, poets, painters, sculptors, critics, collectors, art historians, museum directors and others who are deeply interested.  And so we called ourselves The Friends of Photography.”

Of primary significance to me is the recognition that our membership should be universal, combining multi- disciplines and simultaneously appealing to photographers and non-photographers but bound by a common interest in exploring the “why” and “how” of making compelling art.

20 years after the founding of the Friends, then Board President Peter Bunnell wrote:

“The Friends is an organization whose purpose is to support expressive photography everywhere and for all time.  Its mission is to be living, diverse and evolving educational force that will encourage people to renew, heighten and energize themselves through the experience of fine photography.  The intent of Friends’ programming has been, and will continue to be, to enlarge public interest and to expand audience expectations through the coherent and sympathetic presentation of photography of every persuasion and by every generation.”

His was a thoughtful and consistent message that continues to be relevant today and can guide our planning process:  The CPA must remain multi-generational and all inclusive; it must continue to represent the best of our art while always exploring new boundaries and means of expression; and it must challenge both artist and non-artist alike to understand the creative process and why we “make art.”

Our current planning process is exploring several themes which I share with you and for which we will be looking for feedback and input.  Foremost among them are:

  • How do we broaden and expand our audience?
  • How do we communicate more effectively?
  • Should we offer more programs virtually and on an on-demand basis?
  • How can we attract more volunteers and reward them for their service?
  • How do we do a better job of incorporating social media in what we do?
  • How do we strengthen the interaction between artist and audience?
  • How do we create ways to help us better understand and appreciate an image and the creative process that underlies it?

To this end, we have devised a questionnaire which we will be sharing with you and we look forward to everyone’s feedback.


Brooks McChesney
President, Board of Trustees