SLC Photo Collective founder, Dave Brewer, sits at his desk overlooking the gallery space below. Photo: Max Lowe Media
If you’ve attended any worthwhile events in Salt Lake over the past few years, chances are you’ve had your mug taken in one of Dave Brewer’s photobooths. However, Brewer’s résumé ranges well beyond his trigger-happy shenanigans as a party photog. Beginning his career by taking photos with local snowboard crews like Team Thunder, documenting trips to Mexico and local events like the Pride Festival, Brewer’s high-quality work has led to features in a number of publications including SLUG Magazine, Snowboarder Mag and Transworld Snowboarding. This has allowed him to build an impressive client base, as he is now contracted by organizations such as Real Salt Lake and the Twilight Concert Series. After building an extensive portfolio from action sports to product photography to studio portraits, Brewer set his viewfinder on giving back to the photo community that has treated him so well. This July, Brewer opened the SLC Photo Collective.
Located in the heart of downtown, the 3,000-square-foot space that houses the SLC Photo Collective provides a community workspace for photographers, videographers, make-up artists and graphic designers. “There were a lot of photographers that had the same mentality that I had, that we wanted to work with each other and collaborate with each other and continue to push the limits, but there wasn’t a place where anyone and everyone could come and shoot in the studio or print images or get feedback or show their work,” says Brewer. Brewer had the idea, but that, as many entrepreneurs will tell you, is the easy part. “I think I have probably checked out almost every abandoned or listed building in the downtown Salt Lake region over the past year and a half. It wasn’t until I stepped foot into my friend Hondo’s old skate shop, Brick and Mortar, that I knew it would be perfect for what I wanted,” says Brewer. As luck would have it, Hondo soon decided to pursue other dreams and the two were able to work out Brewer taking over the space. “From May until the end of July I’ve been pretty much working every day on the space doing renovations; repainting, filling in holes, pulling up carpet and laying down tile, putting in hardwood flooring and doing all those things to make this place what I had envisioned,” says Brewer.
What sets the SLC Photo Collective apart from other studios in Salt Lake City is what Brewer calls a collaborative environment. “From what I have noticed, most community studios seem to be somewhat more exclusive, only allowing a very small amount of serious, full-time photographers to utilize the space, and at high lease rates. We simply want to provide opportunities for photographers of all levels, those who own studio lighting and those who don’t know how to use a flash,” says Brewer.
The front of the studio features a large client lounge with couches, a conference table and a large screen TV for displaying images. Further back is a large hair and makeup vanity counter as well as a room completely dedicated to wardrobe for commercial and professional shoots. The rear space is 1,500 square feet of photo studio space with high ceilings, full studio lighting and multiple backdrops. It can accommodate two photographers at one time and is also the main gallery for shows, although Brewer notes that the entire space can be utilized for large shows. Clients also have access to the Collective’s 44” large format archival inkjet printers, scanners and vinyl plotters once their product is ready for print.
In addition to offering studio space, equipment and a show room, Brewer plans to offer workshops, too. “There will be workshops for photographers and also for things pertaining to photography such as hair and makeup workshops, where we will photograph the models to display the makeup and hair for portfolios,” says Brewer. Workshops for photographers will range from Photoshop classes, studio lighting, fashion and business in photography.
The grand opening show on July 29 included prints from Andy Wright, Erik Craig, Sam Milianta, Teresa Flowers and over 20 other local photographers. The show featured a variety of subject matter including action sports photography, fashion photography, landscapes and abstract expressionism. “I wanted to showcase the diversity that exists amongst photographers in Salt Lake City. I also wanted to bring those people together to meet each other and hopefully set the Photo Collective off on a good note, ” says Brewer.
Ultimately, Brewer hopes that the collaborative space will operate not only as gallery and workspace, but also as a place to sharpen and learn new skills. “I simply remember when I first was getting into photography with very minimal equipment and how I wished that I had some sort of a resource for learning or utilizing lighting equipment. I think that is what sets the SLC Photo Collective apart from other community studios.”
The SLC Photo Collective is located at 561 W. 200 S. and is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Information on general pricing, workshops and how you can get involved can be found at slcphotocollective.org or facebook.com/slcphotocollective.