It had been a number of years, but the weekend before last, my best friend Daniel Quay and I were able to attend an SPE conference together, this time at OSU in Corvallis, Oregon. We arrived a bit too late to make it to any of the workshops on time, so we walked around the art building, got settled at our Airbnb, and went back to the campus for the keynote speaker, Richard Misrach (this post’s featured image is from his Border Cantos). I fondly remember scanning this beloved image from an old issue of Contact Sheet or Aperture to add to the visual resource collection at one of my internships (and posting about it here back when this was more of a personal blog), and I’d be lying if I said this talk wasn’t 100% of the reason I wanted to go to this conference. It definitely lived up to my expectations.

Talks I attended on Saturday were David P. Bayles’s “From Chainsaw to Camera: A Life with Trees,” Colleen Mullins’s “Shark Tank – Photography Book Edition,” Tara Champion’s “Modern Documentary Practices: A case study of working with Yup’ik Eskimos on the Yukon Delta, Alaska,” Larry Landis’s “Photography for the People: 125 Years of Photographic Instruction at Oregon State University,” Eirik Johnson’s “Sharing Experience – or How I Learned to Love Collaboration,” and a conversation with Rafael Soldi and Christopher Russell at the Corvallis Arts Center.

I learned so much! I enjoyed every talk I went to. I think I used to expect a lot from going to SPE; the Midwest region has so many members, and every conference I went to there was full of energy and discovery and connections being made. These days, I find I’m just so satisfied listening to people talk about art and learning the stories behind beautiful images. Something else I appreciated was how much of the content was focused on the environment and conservation. I think that’s an aspect of the Northwest region, and I’m happy to be a part of it.