Typing up my notes about regional and national conferences for the Society for Photographic Education has proven to be quite valuable to me over the past two years and it’s something I intend to continue to do twice each year.  My best friend and collaborator, Daniel Evan Garza, and I have been to four conferences together now, and we thought this one in Lincoln was great.  Anecdotes and many links ahead…


Thursday night, I really enjoyed the Keynote Speaker, Christian Patterson, talking about his work, Redheaded Peckerwood (from which this post’s featured image comes).  I’m super into “following rules,” so when a talk is about interesting work that’s relevant to the conference theme as well as the region, I’m on board.  I was not ready for this talk to end.  Afterwards, I went to the reception for an exhibition of student work at Tugboat Gallery, where I saw some great pieces.


This was my third SPE conference seeing a talk by Dan Coburn.  Dan recently accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Photo-Media at KU, so now he’s in Lawrence, where I am.  His work is really beautiful and unique.

I was excited to see a talk by Emma Powell, who I have featured here in the past, as well as an exhibition of her pictures.  I am looking forward to seeing more of her new work about declining bee populations.

I had been seeing Lara Shipley‘s work a lot online lately, and I really enjoyed her and Antone Dolezal’s talk about their project, The Devil’s Promenade.  Lara also recently relocated to Lawrence, and since I discovered them I have thought her photographs are gorgeous.

Other speakers I saw on Friday were Bradley Peters, Emily Franklin, Kally Malcom, and Honored Educator, Jeff Curto.  Also this day, I had a portfolio review with Regina Flowers, Education Director at LUX Center for the Arts.  At the end of the day, I went to the reception for Emma Powell’s show, In Search of Sleep, at Workspace Gallery.  Workspace is a gorgeous space (and the reception was catered by Bread & Cup, which is such an awesome establishment right next door, where I returned the following day for lunch).


Saturday morning started off with a great talk by April Watson, Associate Curator of Photographs at the Nelson-Atkins.  It was nice to be exposed to some photographers in the region through her talk about the show, The American Dream Now.

Next was the incredible talk, my personal favorite of the conference, “Paranormalcy” by Christopher Schneberger.  The talk was engaging (in 3D!), the work was fascinating and beautiful–it was just great and you’ve got to see it for yourself, and in person.

When we looked at the program to choose which talk to go to next, we were so excited to see that Alaina Hickman was giving a short talk as one of the MWSPE scholarship winners.  Dan and I loved two pieces of hers at Tugboat and when we realized they were both by the same artist and she was giving a talk, we were sold.  Her talk was so good!  She showed her tintypes of natural history museum dioramas.  I ended up connecting with her at the portfolio walkthrough later and I’m really happy I did.  (Alaina hasn’t got a website now, but I hope to keep up with her and feature her work in the future.)

We’d seen Andy Bloxham speak in Santa Fe two years ago, and when we saw he was speaking, we had to go.  Once again, his talk was really entertaining.  It’s always refreshing to laugh during artist talks.

I was happy to see a talk by D. Bryon Darby.  Bryon emailed me in the summertime about having come across my work and us both winding up in Kansas and we’ve met a couple times since then.  I really appreciated his openness and focus on a bit of his process, which I find artists are often reluctant to talk about.  There were a few artists at the conference who opened up this way, for a nice change.

I also saw Nicole Hupp, Kate Allen, and Lauren Zadikov and Christine Holtz speak.  After the talks, I headed over to the Sheldon Museum of Art for John Pfahl, the Invited Speaker.  My first experience with John Pfahl is having seen his compost pile pictures at the Albright-Knox in Buffalo, NY, where I am (and he is) from.  I was a teenager, and the pieces blew me away and stuck with me.  I actually looked at them a ton while I was processing and printing At Rest.  After the talk, I got to see some of his Altered Landscapes photos in a show at the Sheldon and then went to a reception for three exhibitions on the university campus.  I am seriously impressed by the community and resources for photographers at UNL and in Lincoln in general.

And I ended the night with the portfolio walkthrough!  I was sincerely excited to see so much great work and meet and talk to so many people.  I don’t think we had a portfolio walkthrough at the two Southwest regional conferences I’ve been to, so it was nice to see that this is something important to the members in the Midwest region.  This conference was a great welcome to the region, I thought.