2012 Conversations about Photography

Attendees during a break on Saturday
Attendees of Conversations about Photography 2012 mingle during a break in Saturday’s presentations at Lake Forest College. See more photographs by Hank Koshollek.

Photographs from the 2012 conference are now online, and the program is available for downloading as a PDF file.

Friday, April 13

Friday again featured a social hour, photography exhibition, dinner, and keynote address by Drake Hokanson, an emeritus professor at Winona (Minnesota) State University, where he teaches part time while doing photography, editing, and writing. Presenter Bill Botkin, from Centennial, Colorado, displayed fifteen of his silver gelatin fiber prints.

Saturday, April 14

Shirley Burman Steinheimer, Sacramento, California, headlined an impressive slate of presenters. She was the wife of legendary railroad photographer Richard Steinheimer, who passed away May 4, 2011. Shirley share their photographs and discussed their travels together on California’s Donner Pass.

Other highlights included Tom Fawell, West Chicago, a painter who created the captivating artwork for EMD diesel locomotive ads in the 1960s and 70s, and railroad executive and photographer Henry Posner III (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), chairman of the Railroad Development Corporation. Bill Botkin of Centennial, Colorado, presented a selection of his black-and-white photoographs of railroads around the world and discussed the process of black-and-white photography. Co-founder of the railpictures.net website Chris Starnes, Gate City, Virginia, talked about his site’s and the Internet’s impacts on railroad photography. Christian Goepel, Larkspur, California, examined the intersection of transit and railroads with the surrounding cultural environment.

The concluded with a reception sponsored by Trains and Classic Trains magazines in the college’s elegant Glen Rowan House, and featured Botkin’s exhibition. Sunday’s presenters—Steve Crise and Joel Jensen—both sold and signed copies of their recent books, along with David Plowden.

Sunday, April 15

Sunday morning’s sessions included workshops and discussions on photography technique and digital archiving. Richard J. Solomon and Clark Johnson presented their permanent, digital imaging storage system, a follow-up to their 2011 presentation on archiving analog and digital photography. Steve Crise, Los Angeles, gave a workshop on ”Photographic Re-purposing for Publishing,“ a look at re-photographing the Pacific Electric Railway for a book with Arcadia Publishing. The conference concluded with Alexander B. Craghead’s interview with photographer Joel Jensen of Ely, Nevada, who discussed his railroad photography and some of his outside influences.

Central Pacific Big Fill near Promontory, Utah. Photo by Drake Hokanson.
Canadian Pacific Railway steam locomotive no. 2412 in Montreal, Quebec, 1960. David Mattoon won a framed print of this David Plowden photograph in a raffle at the 2012 conference. Raffle ticket sales helped raise funds for the Center’s operating expenses, and Plowden himself drew the winning ticket on Saturday afternoon. Photograph copyright David Plowden.

Attendees’ Show

New in 2012 was a short presentation of photographs from conference attendees. On Saturday morning, we shared one photograph each from more than 25 percent of conference attendees. Be sure to submit a photograph next year so that even more of the audience can be represented.


We asked that if you felt strongly about the conference, the Center, and its mission, to consider becoming a conference patron in 2012. Your response overwhelmed us, as 17 of you rose to meet our request. The additional funds provided by conference patrons helped fund travel for speakers, and we are considering scholarships to assist young photographers in attending future conferences. Thank you to patrons Norman Carlson, Charles Castner, Bon French, John Gruber, Nona Hill, Clark E. Johnson, Jim Koglin, Jeff Mast, Brian Matsumoto, David W. Mattoon, Don Phillips, Kenneth Rehor, Michael P. Schmidt, Jeffrey Smith, Michael Ross Valentine, and one anonymous attendee.