Portuguese Center of Photography, a journey in time

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  1. CPF is a space for the dissemination, conservation, promotion and documentation of photography
  2. Visitors can find cameras designs of all types, sizes, shapes and materials
  3. The building used to be a jail.

Created in 1996 by Minister Manuel María Carrillo, the Portuguese Center of Photography (CPF from its Portuguese initials) is the result of collaborative work between the government of the city of Porto (Portugal) and the Ministry of Culture for 22 years.

The CPF came to be in an era where photography began to gain strength in public spaces, especially in the field of art. At that time many photography schools began to emerge, as well as various photographers exhibitions, considered cursed during the Salazar regime, the period where Portugal was under Antonio Oliveira Salazar´s dictatorship since 1932 to 1968.

Photo by Frida X.

The building, which once served as a prison, is today a space for the dissemination, conservation, promotion and documentation of the photographic field, with rooms for temporary exhibitions, permanent collections, library, shop and workshops.
Its main attraction is the room “Antonio Pedro Vicente”, where you can find specimens dating from 1890 as the “Chamber of Study“, which functioned as a fundamental tool to identify the criminals, and not so criminal, of the time.

The permanent collection “Pedro Vicente” offers a chronological journey through the cameras where the visitor can find designs of all types, sizes, shapes and materials. For example, from 1900 onwards, cameras made with wood began to be used, which were lighter and easier to carry for photographers. These types of models were called field cameras.

Similarly, the repertoire has a section of stereoscopic copies, now known as 3D cameras (third dimension). Unlike conventional design, stereoscopic cameras are differentiated by having a binocular vision. The intention of these models, considering the individual perspective of each eye is to approach the human vision, for that reason, the photographic result gives a third dimension effect.

Photo by Frida X.

Another striking sector of the collection is the section of miniature or mini cameras. Thanks to the experiments of Fox Talbot in 1839 and his system of reproduction of photographic copies, he began to work with small formats (9×12 centimeters, currently considered large) creating cameras that fit in the palm of the hand. Due to the discretion of their size, some of the miniature models were retaken for the development of spy cameras which are composed of devices disguised or hidden in common objects such as cigarette packs, lighters, soda cans, pocket and hand watches.

Mini Cameras. Photo by Frida X.
Spy Cameras. Photo by Frida X.

With regard to temporary exhibitions, “Grid Cities-Pombaline” by American photographer John Frederick Anderson and “Soños” by Spanish photographer Miguel Vidal are currently on display. Both exhibitions end on May 5, 2019.

The CPF is part of the Cultural Heritage of the city of Porto, it is open to the general public free of charge Tuesday to Friday from 10:00 am to 18:00 pm; Saturdays, Sundays and holidays in a schedule from 15:00 to 19:00 pm.

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