Framing Photography's Future | Our Vision

Framing Photography’s Future
An Overview

The Project

Framing Photography’s Future is a project that we embarked on in January of 2018. We have had the wonderful opportunity to partner with Martin Luther King Jr. School of the Arts (MLKSOA) in Seaside, CA on Broadway Avenue. MLKSOA is a Turnaround Arts School, meaning they have partnered with The Kennedy Center and are recipients of a major grant that allows them to offer more art-specific classes at their school. Minority enrollment at MLK SOA is 98%, which is more than 20% higher than California’s average, and is one of the state’s lowest performing elementary schools.  This has resulted in them being selected as a Turnaround Arts School.

The Monterey Adult School was previously headquartered in the B Wing of MLKSOA (Where our headquarters are now). Once MLKSOA partnered with The Kennedy Center, they decided to move the Monterey Adult School off their premises and fill the classrooms in B Wing with local non-profit organizations. Among The Weston Collective, there are three other art related non-profits that have headquarters there. The Weston Collective built a traditional wet darkroom, and a film developing room along with using the existing classroom as a large studio space.

Our affiliation with MLKSOA is that, in allowing us to operate in B Wing, we provide services to their students. The Weston Collective is separate from MLKSOA in terms of organization, structure, planning, etc. Zach Weston, the Executive Director of The Weston Collective, is running the program and makes all final decisions after consultation with The Weston Collective’s Board of Directors.

The Weston Collective has the opportunity to not only help underprivileged students of Seaside, but also have the ability to rent the darkroom/developing room/studio out to the public, host photography workshops, and offer summer programs for the community of Monterey County. In regards to the after school program, the students of MLKSOA and Seaside Middle School have priority registration, but we would like to include students from all over the county in these programs in the near future.

Renting the darkroom, teaching workshops, etc. helps us stock materials (paper, and chemicals) for the students to use. 

The Community Darkroom

In our community darkroom you will have the ability to print high-quality silver black and white photographs. With four enlarger stations and two eight-foot sinks, there is plenty of room to create your art in a comfortable space.

The Developing Room is a stand-alone room specifically designed for processing film. Have the chance to develop your film free of the chance of light damage from others printing in the main darkroom. You have the ability to process 35mm, medium format and 4x5 film. 

Our community studio space contains everything necessary for post processing your black and white silver gelatin prints. We have three mount presses, a print cutter, and an array of large tables to work on. The studio space is so crucial to be able to complete the photographic process. Not only can you just print your unique prints in our darkroom but you also will have the ability to mount and spot your photographs to complete the process.

Membership Rates

Student - $99/Month

Full access to main darkroom, developing room, and studio space

*Valid only with student ID*

Community Artist - $149/Month

Full access to main darkroom, developing room, and studio space

**Membership contracts are for a minimum four months**

 To sign up, call Zach at 831-233-2100. If you are a student, please email proof of tuition to zach@thewestoncollective. Thank you!


Since Martin Luther King School of the Arts has become an art school they have seen the following improvements:

·      A 20% reduction in Tier 3(at risk) students

·      An 80% reduction in overall school suspensions

·      55% of 5th graders met end of year reading targets

·      Highest student and staff YouthTruth improvement in MPUSD (2017)


Our Vision

We would like to see The Weston Collective Community Darkroom free to all students of Monterey County. We want the space to be a fun, creative, and safe place for students who are interested in photography to come and learn. Film photography is a very rewarding process but it takes time, patience and a lot of practice to be able to successfully master the process. With Monterey Peninsula College restricting the number of art classes their students can take, and darkrooms continuing to be defunded and closed, we would hope The Community Darkroom would facilitate future learning for students interested in the craft. We are currently implementing a digital printing aspect to the space so we will have both mediums for students to work with.

As of now, Zach Weston is the only paid staff member and receives only $200 a month salary to run and operate the facility. Zach is getting paid through The Weston Collective, not the school. During the school year, he teaches at The Weston Collective about 6 hours a week (2 days of 2 hour after school instruction and 2 days of 1 hour of in class instruction). The after school program is directed toward 6th – 8th grade students while the in-class instruction is for 5th graders. More funding would translate to more workshops, summer camps, after school programs, guest lecturers, transporting students from neighboring towns, etc.

We would like to establish an endowment with the interest being used to purchase materials and pay someone to operate the facility. This way not only could the facility be open more, but also more thought could be put into programming for photography students of Monterey County.