SPAO in a non-profit and charitable private college and photographic arts hub.

SPAO is home to the only 2 year photographic arts diploma in Canada as well as a unique 6 month artist residency, numerous evening and weekend photography development classes and the only critical gallery in the region dedicated to lens-based artwork.

SPAO teaches both contemporary digital techniques as well as traditional darkroom and alternative processes. We take pride managing one of the most well-appointed darkrooms in the region!

SPAO also holds numerous events throughout the year for the Ottawa arts community. Alongside free artist talks and public panel discussions with regional, national and international invitees, SPAO has an annual Open House in November, which sees upwards of 1000 people, summer Portfolio Reviews, and other special events.

The School of the Photographic Arts: Ottawa was established in 2005 as an alternative for study in the photographic visual arts. Michael Tardioli and a group of dedicated students pursued the idea of building a school that would expand upon Tardioli’s teaching methodology. From the ground up in 43 days, the school was built.  After the appointment of Jonathan Hobin in 2016, SPAO is excited to have relocated to the heart of Little Italy after 12 years in the Byward Market. Our new purpose-built facility for both contemporary and traditional darkroom photography, along with our accessible gallery space, are just some of the many features in our new space.

Today, SPAO offers a diverse photographic visual arts experience to hundreds of full-time and part-time students every year. Encouraging individual exploration in photographic arts remains central to SPAO’s mandate.

Contact us anytime at



Darren Pottie Gallery Programming Manager 613-562-3824 77 Pamilla st


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