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!

Snapchat Adventures to, in, and from New Orleans

My snapchat adventures continued on my trip to New Orleans for the SPE National Conference. My mom and uncle tagged along, and, well, it was an interesting road trip.
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We started in Michigan obviously and took a full day to drive through Ohio, Kentucky, and part of Tennessee. We stopped for the night in Nashville, ate at the Hard Rock Cafe (because tourism, duh,) and went to bed. We woke up, hopped in the car, drove about two hours and then had a four hour excursion through a ton of antique shops, because my mother and I have a problem.

I’m telling you, if you don’t go to antique stores, you are seriously missing out on some beautifully strange things.

Well, we finally left Alabama and got into Mississippi around dusk, and man… Mississippi is actually the worst state. Worse than Ohio. It smells funny, the roads are super dark at night, there are NO lights basically ANYWHERE, exits are few and far between, and when there are exits, the towns look so spooky you’d think Freddy lived there or something. So yeah, Mississippi? No bueno. If you’re from Mississippi, mad props to you, but sorry not sorry on my opinion of your poor, poor state.

But yeah, we got to Louisiana, checked into our fancy Motel 6, and crashed.

Only to wake up hella early the next day, because I had one day to do some sightseeing. So our marathon through New Orleans happened.

My adventures through New Orleans ended with an SPE related event, which was a lecture at the New Orleans Museum of Art by JERRY UELSMANN.

If you are unfamiliar with this amazing soul, go educate yourself.

He is one of the founding members of the Society for Photographic Education, and he is a charismatic speaker and has endless wit. I bought his book after and had him sign in, and he signed it TWICE. His reason? He didn’t like how the first signature looked. I love that man.

He asked if I was a student, and I told him yes. He said that he was too, and that it was important to never stop learning. I couldn’t agree more.

I went to bed on cloud 9 and woke up and spent the next 3 days above the clouds. SPE was incredible. I met some incredible people like Olivia Parker, Anne Noble, and faculty from Columbia College Chicago, Judy Natal and Ross Sawyers. It was a wonderful time, and I’m already looking forward to the Regional Conference this Fall.

And that was New Orleans. After a brief trip to the cemetery, we headed back to Michigan. In one go. Because we are insane.

Also, how creepy is that abandoned Toys R Us? It was down the road from our classy hotel accommodations.

And that is my snapchat adventures for New Orleans. I’m not traveling anywhere for a while, so the snapchat streak is coming to a temporary end. Thanks for browsing my selfies and bad jokes; I’m sure you weren’t avoiding anything important.

Happy Shooting!

Polaroids of Long Lost Family

I do this thing where I collect old Polaroids of people I don’t know, and I “adopt” them. It’s kinda sad when you think about it, how someone didn’t want their family photos or there wasn’t anyone left in the family to want them. So, I’ve been collecting them. Because every photograph deserves a home.

It’s admittedly a strange action, especially the “adoption” part. There’s some tension there; I know that these people will never truly be my family and I don’t know anything about them, and, also, what gives me the right to take ownership of their precious memories?

Since I’ve gathered quite a few Polaroids, I decided to do something with them for a project. I decided to make an attempt to map out this complicated tension by writing, painting, and collaging onto the pictures, kind of like scrapbooking– and we scrapbook our precious memories, right? I was trying to make these memories my own, but the frustration that this is not possible became clear as I worked on the project.

When I was working on these, I was wondering what the people in them are up to today. I have no idea if these people are dead or alive, and I probably will never know. It’s a melancholy thing.

But as my dancing-friend-who-just-baptised-his-newborn-would-say: YOLO .

And yes that is the same guy.

Also that little boy who is crying in every picture? What a little punk.

For some, I made up my own memory of the person in the photo or the event. For others, I responded to the content and altered the space around it. Some are just commentary from me, because I think I’m hilarious.

I just imagine a gallery space filled with a grid of these ridiculous photographs. And, who doesn’t love looking at awkward family photos? It’s like a train wreck you don’t want to look but you do anyway. Kind of like my life.

Well that’s all for now. If any of you are going to be in New Orleans for the Society for Photographic Education conference next week, shoot me an email or something and maybe we can meet up there and talk about photography! Yay new people!

Happy Shooting!