Silo City, a site with three grain elevators, an old malting house and lots of grain silo’s sits on 12 acres along the Buffalo River, is brimming with historic significance. Legend has it that one of the elevators is the country’s first slip-form version, a form that has concrete continuously poured until the final structure is raised. Situated on Childs Street in Buffalo, New York, Silo City is where Mark Maio, a fine-art photographer, started the Silo City Photography Workshops more than 10 years ago.

Mark, who was teaching at the University at Buffalo, decided to take a class in ethnic neighborhoods of Buffalo. “It was exciting,” says Mark. “I ended up completing two master’s degrees on the remnants of Buffalo’s grain industry and decided it was important enough to share with fellow photographers who might be interested.” Eventually, he began photographing this historical area in Buffalo.

He approached Rick Smith, owner of Rigidized Metals Corp., with his idea to invite photographers to the site to capture its beauty. Rick was on board. The first workshops started in 2011 and were made available to photographers of all skill levels. More than 300 participants, including Oregon Printing owner Judd Plattenburg (who attended 7  times), came from all over the country (and Canada) to attend for two and a half days. The workshops were so successful that many participants returned year after year to take part in the special opportunity.

10 years and more than 200 photographers came together in Buffalo, NY to make up the Silo City Photography Workshops what they were. This Coffee Table book tells the story of that effort, with photo’s and essay’s from a decade in Buffalo that touched a lot of people.

“My goal with the workshops was to help other photographers elevate their level of photography. I wanted to create a community where we all learned from one another. I never imagined how successful it would become,” says Mark. “The workshops generated all kinds of photos, varying points of view, lots of discussion — it was wonderful.”

This iconic view of the Lake and Rail elevator, shot across the Buffalo River was taken in 2015, with no wind around 5:30 in the morning. Its right next to Rick Smith’s Essay.

But after 10 years of workshops, Mark learned that half of Silo City was being sold to developers. It was then he realized he had to find a way not only to capture the beauty and mystery of the area before it was gone but to showcase the significant work created by workshop participants. The answer came in the form of a coffee table book.

“I knew I had to do something,” explains Mark. “I approached Judd with some ideas, and he was eager to help. He ended up doing the printing for the book, at cost.” Others also volunteered their time to make the project possible, writing, designing, and providing art direction. More than 200 photographers submitted their work (photographed between 2011 and 2021); 60 photos were chosen for publication.

Silo City is Truly a time capsule into the history of manufacturing as well as agriculture in this country. I’m truly thankful that I got an opportunity to be involved. Judd

“Oregon had never printed a true “Coffee Table Book” for something like this before, so there was a learning curve for us,” explains Judd. “It was a limited run of 200, and we had some issues that popped up after they were delivered to the client. So we ended up reprinting all of them.”

An Essay by Tony Bannon (curator at the George Eastman House for years) and a picture of a Lake Freighter unloading at night, are pictured here.

Despite the printing hiccup, Oregon ultimately created a highly engaging 12 x 12 inch book that showcases the photography on glossy paper stock. It was printed using the company’s HP Indigo digital press, which delivers spectacular results on a variety of printing substrates.

There are still a few copies of the coffee table book available for purchase as we write this. Visit Mark’s website to order (supply is limited).

“We’re proud of how well the book turned out,” says Judd. “We took some risks, learned a whole lot, and now we’re ready to print more books like this as part of our host of services.”

The original “Belt Room” in the American Warehouse was a destination for many photographers (when you could find it), somewhere on the 5th floor. It was really dark there.

If you’ve been looking for a unique way to tell your story, give Judd or the team at Oregon Printing a call today. A published book could be in your future. Or the team can help you identify other impactful ways to showcase your work and connect with your audience.

To see some of Judd’s photos from Silo City, Click here: https://bit.ly/3LR2XRL