This past weekend was the Midwest region’s SPE conference in Madison, WI. As usual, I went with my buddy, Dan Garza, and we saw some good talks and lots of awesome art. In the tradition of typing up my notes and thoughts about the conference, which is sometimes my sole way of keeping up with the photography community in person, links and images galore below.


We arrived in Madison just in time for Michael Lesy’s talk about the Keystone View stereographs. Lesy’s book, Wisconsin Death Trip, was recommended to me numerous times as a student and I recently spent some time looking back and contemplating it (this post’s featured image is one from the book). Especially after recently hearing him on a quite old episode of This American Life, I had been really looking forward to Lesy’s talk.


Friday, we started out with talks by Nathan Abramowski and Jason Rutter, Shreepad Joglekar, and Matt Rahner. Abramowski and Rutter shared some gorgeous photographs from their collaboration, reDiscovering the Grand, Joglekar spoke about a show he curated, and Rahner showed images from his beautiful project based in Kansas City, Eminent Domain.

After that, we made our way to MMoCA for the Alec Soth exhibition, From Here to There, where I seriously could not have spent enough time. Back at the conference, we went to Kristin Reeves‘ talk, and then trekked downtown again for the FlakPhoto Midwest Print Show. It was a wonderful exhibition, and so nice to see names from the Midwest that I recognized. From there, we walked to the Art Lofts to see the UW-Madison Undergrad Photography Show, Yours is the last house before the far-off: home, isolation, and the self.

That evening was a talk by the Featured Speaker, Andy Adams. It was so distinct, engaging, and motivating; my favorite talk of the conference. I took a lot of notes, rife with exclamation points. To wind down the night, we went to the Scholarship Show reception, book signing, and open portfolio sharing.


Saturday was a short day since Dan and I had decided to go to Chicago in the afternoon. We saw four scholarship winners speak–Chadric Devin, Amanda Carmer, William Knipscher, and Gregory T. Davis–all great! We went to the Members Meeting, then snuck out to hit the road.


The conference felt small attendance-wise and I was hoping for more archives-themed content, but I thought there was valuable programming regardless. I especially loved the exhibitions and their accessibility; I think it can sometimes be a struggle to see it all. Madison is such a pretty, fantastic city–I shared a little about the rest of my trip there on my personal blog. Until next time, SPE! New Orleans, anyone?