Saturday, March 31, 2012

Society for Photographic Education National Conference

This is the first time Amelia and I stayed at the conference hotel since Denver in 2008. This is our view from the fifth floor (we didn't have the spectacular balcony that all of our friends and Sally Mann had for their viewing pleasure).

Hyatt Regency reading material as displayed by Amelia Morris.

Staying near the Ferry Building on Embarcadero was very convenient as there was good food to be had relatively cheaply for a downtown SF location (hello Cowgirl Creamery). Here is the Vaillancourt Fountain view from the Hyatt.

I would imagine that this was the most photographed lobby at any SPE conference in recent memory. Amelia and I stood here for 20 minutes staring at the light show our first night (we learned that it changed colors and shapes every few days). Amelia and I didn't spot one burned out bulb either!

The Hyatt Regency light show as Las Vegas also from the 5th floor.

My portfolio box with Amelia's business card, Amelia's Photoshop extravaganza printed on Photo Tex adhesive paper (my first attempt at this material in preparation for cat wall paper) and my Ed Ruscha postcard from SFMOMA.

Overall, this year's lectures were hit and miss. Many of the ones I wanted to see took place in the middle of reviewing student portfolios or having my work reviewed for the first time in ten years. The dominant theme (much to our annoyance) was photographers not showing any images choosing instead to talk about their work with the lights off (= instant snooze fest).

Amelia, Alexis, Laurie and I (along with two of my students and one of Alexis's) crammed our work into one large table at the entry way of the open portfolio walk-through Friday night.

I spent a lot of time looking at Laurie Blakeslee's new work (I love this print - the image is from an old Montgomery Ward catalog).

Amelia getting ready to show her portfolio. The big disadvantage of the Hyatt lobby was very poor lighting!

Cass Fey listening to Matt Compton talk about his BFA thesis work Average American.

Kellie Kuratko and her thesis work Memory Distortion.

The next day I showed my work to Chuck from SF Camerawork. He was relatively speechless with the David C. Nolan / Marilyn Monroe photographs and kept referring to them as "strange." The highlight of his conversation was mentioning the "physicality and materiality" of photographs as something he is seeing a lot of now. Because photography is immaterial (primarily seen virtually), more and more photographers are gravitating to making photographs about photographs and that is where this work fits in.

I had a great review with Chris from the Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. He continually referred to the series as "strange." He had a number of ideas for presentation which I am seriously considering: it should exist as a book first and secondly in display case vitrines as an archive. He thought they were incredible from a design sense and liked cropping portions of the text. We ended our conversation with him telling me that the "photo's final resting place is as important as the photo itself" which I continue to think about regarding this work.

In any case, I promised both Chuck and Chris images of Aline's cat collection by the end of May. Self-imposed deadlines! No traveling in sight! Here's to getting some work DONE on this series!

Another one of my favorite memories of this conference was meeting fellow Postcard Collective participant Sheila Newbery who spent a very long time looking at my portfolio. She emphasized the need for the Marilyn photos to be seen in a book and presented the idea of it being poster size. That plan may be implemented soon!

Amelia and I also decided that Photo Lucida is in our future.

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