Oh Snap Photo Lab founder wants to offer a safe, creative outlet for youth Downtown

By Abbey Marshall, TDS Staff Reporter

Photos by Abbey Marshall

Packed into 6,300 square feet in a Downtown suite, Akronites can waltz into a fantastical world packed with a dreamy mirage of honey-lit clouds, primp in front of a glitzy pink vanity, deliver a newscast from behind an anchor’s desk, pose on a dramatic wingback chair adorned with flowers and play in the shadow of kaleidoscopic images projected on a wall.

These experiences, among the more than 30 unique photo opportunities in the space, are a part of the new Oh Snap Photo Lab in Suite 509 at 209 S. Main St.

Though Oh Snap’s creator Tiffany Roper doesn’t consider herself as an artist or photographer, the entrepreneur now curates her own photography lab packed with micro studios, art installations and murals, which opens Sept. 25.

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Roper, a licensed therapist who owns several other businesses, decided to create the selfie museum to offer a fun, unique experience in the city. A mother of two children, she said she wants to specifically target Akron’s youth.

“Anymore in Akron, what do they have to do that’s entertaining?” Roper said. “There’s no skating rinks anymore, there’s no arcades. But they always have their phones with them. They love recording, making TikToks and videos, and I thought, ‘What if we had a really cool space where they could have a creative outlet?’”

She worked with Downtown Akron Partnership to secure the fifth floor Main Street suite. She wanted to pick a central location near the University of Akron where people from surrounding neighborhoods felt like they had a stake in what was happening in the area.

“I think Downtown Akron is going to become the hub of our city like it used to be,” Roper said. “There’s so many great people around Akron to turn this into the center of arts, culture and business. I’m seeing that unfold before my eyes and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”

She secured the space in June and quickly got to work commissioning artists across Northeast Ohio to decorate the walls and rooms. She is the first minority woman to lease within the building. 

“For the kids in our community and my own children to see that is really impactful,” Roper said. 

In addition to the selfie sets, there is a private event space that includes 10 guests’ admission to the photo lab. Roper calls it the Emerald Lounge, a dark green room lush with foliage, plants and soft lighting, complete with a custom-made bar and private bartender on staff. It also has a unique view overlooking Lock 3.

View of Lock 3 from Oh Snap’s Emerald Lounge private event space. (Photo by Abbey Marshall)

Roper has had a busy year: she opened three Akron-based businesses — all during the pandemic. In addition to Oh Snap, she and her husband also started First Time Shine, a mobile detailing company, last month. Roper also started Eat Speak Love, a company dedicated to uplifting female and minority entrepreneurs, last year and launched its SmallBig subscription boxes last spring. 

“The pandemic really gave us the opportunity and the time and the flexibility to pour into ourselves,” Roper said. “Being a serial entrepreneur has opened my eyes not only to what’s possible, but how we can help each other as entrepreneurs.”

Oh Snap photo lab opens Sept. 25 at Suite 509 at 209 S. Main St. Tickets are available at www.ohsnapphotolab.com

Abbey Marshall covers economic development for The Devil Strip via Report for America. Reach her at abbey@thedevilstrip.com.

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