Reflecting on If Photography is Enough, in Vermont

A few months ago, I was browsing calls for entry, and I came across a call for conference proposals for the Society of Photographic Education’s NE Chapter, for their conference “Is Photography Enough?” Since I asked that question over and over again in graduate school and it was one of the central themes in my visual work about trauma, I was like YES TIME TO SHINE BABY.

I submitted a proposal, got in, and then suddenly I had to make my happy-dappy way to Brattleboro, Vermont.

Now, I don’t drive. I didn’t know anyone who could drive me. And I was broke.

So I left work and took a bus to the subway, the subway to the airport, then a plane from Chicago to Boston, where I then got an Uber from the airport to the bus terminal where I sat at the McDonalds legitimately all night to catch a Greyhound bus from Boston to Brattleboro Vermont, where I then walked a mile to the nearest coffee shop to lock myself in their bathroom for 20 minutes to clean up and get fancy, then walked two blocks to the conference center.

Planes, trains, and automobiles anyone?

I was exhausted, but excited to present. I was one of the Pecha Kucha speakers, along with amazing artists like Andrea Frank, Katharine Kreisher, Michael Cardinali, Nadia Sablin, and Sarah Knobel. It was a humbling experience to be grouped with such amazing and experienced professionals.

Side-note: I really need a more professional portrait, preferably one that doesn’t have a snapchat filter… or nah.

It was a really interesting combination of speakers, as we each had 6 minutes and 40 seconds to talk about our work, so it was rapid-fire presenting. It was super fascinating seeing how each speaker used photography, how some used it in a traditional sense (Cardinali, Sablin,) how others used it supplementally (Frank,) and how a few used it in collaboration with other mediums (Knobel, Kreisher, myself.)

My 6 minutes and 40 seconds covered my graduate school research and resulting visual thesis– it was quite the challenge, but I think I managed to cram two-years of extensive work into a few minutes. Maybe. It felt good so I’m just gonna roll with it.

So, we did the talk, had the Honored Educator ceremony and resulting lecture by John Willis, and then I took an Uber to my hotel that was 3 miles away from the conference. As it turned out, I was SUPER LUCKY to get it, as apparently two-weeks prior Brattleboro went online with Uber and there are TWO UBER DRIVERS IN THE ENTIRE CITY OF BRATTLEBORO VERMONT.

Good times, traveling. Love it.

I got to my hotel, showered off all the travel I did, ordered a large pizza, and passed out because it had been over 24 hours since I slept at that point.

It was completely worth it. Even though I’m not a part of the Society for Photographic Education’s NE Chapter, they still welcomed me with open arms and I made some new acquaintances that I’ll be happy to see again in the future.

The only thing I’m sad about is how I didn’t get the opportunity to take any photos of Brattleboro, VT. It was a gorgeous city, and I walked through it to get to my destination, but it was like -5 degrees Fahrenheit and I wasn’t stopping for anything– except a pretty stream. I did stop for that.

All-in-all, A+ experience, if you remove the crazy-travel hoops I jumped through to get there.

P.S.– I looked hella cute, for someone who spent the better half of the night curled up in a ball at a bus-station McDonalds, drinking stale coffee and constantly ordering hashbrowns from the poor teenager working an over-night shift, who then got ready in a coffee-shop bathroom with people banging on the door for me to “HURRY THE FUCK UP!” I clean up well.

P.S.S.– To get back to Chicago, I got a cab from my hotel to the bustop, where I picked upĀ  the Greyhound from Brattleboro to NYC, then a shuttle from Port Authority to Newark International, to home, where I refused to take the subway home and had my amazing partner pick me up. Just in-case you were wondering how insane I am.

Happy Shooting!