Conversations 2023


Home Page

Download the conference program (43 MB)

Conversations 2023 returns to Lake Forest! The Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s annual conference on railroad art and photography is a great opportunity to interact with railroad photographers and artists, magazine editors, industry leaders, and scholars from wide backgrounds.



Lake Forest College
555 N. Sheridan Road
Lake Forest, Illinois 60045

The campus of co-sponsor Lake Forest College (campus map), is thirty miles north of Chicago. Learn more about the City of Lake Forest online or download the PDF overview.

Session times will be similar to past conferences, but some locations have changed. We will begin at 5:00 pm on Friday, April 14, with a reception including drinks and appetizers at Lake Forest College’s elegant Glen Rowan House. An optional dinner will follow in Calvin Durand Hall at the Mohr Student Center.

Saturday’s presentations, breaks, and lunch will take place entirely in Brown Hall (same as 2022) where doors will open at 8:00 am. Lunch is included with your registration. Another reception will follow, also in Brown Hall, and then we will host an optional dinner back at Calvin Durand.

Sunday’s programming will take place in Brown Hall, where doors will open at 8:00 am. The conference will conclude by noon to provide time for lunch and travel.


Up to four scholarships, funded by conference patrons, are available for young, new, and/or emerging photographers and artists to cover ticket prices, two nights of lodging (double occupancy), and partial travel expenses to and from the conference. Download the application here.


The included conference package features two cocktail receptions on Friday and Saturday evenings; pastries and coffee on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and lunch on Saturday. Two dinners are available for an additional cost.

Please let us know in advance if you have any special dietary needs, and we will make every effort to accommodate them.


Hotel rooms are available at:
*Room blocks are not being offered due to underuse in recent years

Hilton Garden Inn
26225 N. Riverwoods Boulevard
Mettawa, IL 60045, 847-735-8374

Residence Inn Chicago Lake Forest Mettawa
26325 N. Riverwoods Boulevard
Mettawa, IL 60045, 847-615-2701

Dates and Times

Friday, April 14

  • Conference reception, (Glen Rowan House), 5 p.m.
  • Dinner, (Calvin Durand Hall), 7:00 p.m. *additional purchase
  • Entertainment: Music by Anthony D’Amato, followed by an interview featuring his brother Nicholas D’Amato, 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 15 

  • Coffee and pastries, (Brown Hall), 8:00 a.m.   
  • Welcome, 9:00 a.m.    
  • David and Liné Tutwiler, 9:15 a.m.
  • Break, 10:00 a.m.
  • Brian Caswell & Chris Guss, 10:30 a.m.
  • CRP&A Updates, 11:15 a.m.
  • Lunch, (Calvin Durand), 12:00 p.m.
  • CRP&A Collections Update, 1:00 p.m.
  • Docent presentations, 1:45 p.m.
  • Steve Smedley, 2:15 p.m.
  • Break, 3:00 pm
  • Gordon Glattenberg, 3:30 p.m.
  • Tom Gildersleeve, 4:15 pm
  • Reception, (Brown Hall), 5:00 p.m.
  • Dinner, (Calvin Durand Hall), 7:00 p.m. *additional purchase

Sunday, April 16

  • Coffee and pastries, (Brown Hall), 8:00 a.m.
  • CRP&A Collection Updates, 9:00 a.m.
  • Break, 9:45 a.m.
  • Eugene Armer, 10:15 a.m.
  • William Diehl, 11:00 a.m.
  • Conclusion, 11:45 a.m.


Eugene Armer, “From Montagu Pass to Manayunk: A Photographic Journey”

Eugene will take the audience on a photographic journey that begins in southern Africa while growing up with steam power in everyday service and continues to the United States East Coast. From big 4-8-4s to the New York City Subway and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, Eugene will share images that span five decades and cover a variety of motive power and railway operations.

Eugene was born in Cape Town, South Africa and his lifelong love for trains was inspired by an early childhood birthday gift from his parents – a Hornby O Gauge clockwork train set. Most of his career has been spent in the travel and tourism industry, including fourteen years with SARTravel, a division of the South African Railways. Over the years, business and personal travels have taken him to twenty-four countries, with most of his photography centering around railways. His work has appeared in International Railway Journal, Eisenbahn Romantik, Railways Africa, SA Rail, Railfan & Railroad, and Trains, as well as CRP&A publications.

Brian Caswell & Chris Guss, “Drones and Railfanning”

Drones have become a mainstream hobby in today’s photography scene, especially rail photography. Chris and Brian will analyze the photography aspects of drones, their evolution over recent years, and how they fit into a photographer’s array of electronic equipment used to capture images trackside.

Chris Guss was born in St. Louis and is a lifelong resident of the Midwest. After graduating college, Chris worked in the railroad industry for Southern Pacific, Santa Fe, and BNSF in both operations and management roles. He later pursued freelance work along with writing and managing news columns for CTC Board and Railroads Illustrated magazines. For the past eleven years, he has worked as a correspondent for Trains Magazine, focusing primarily on locomotive-related topics. He’s been making images for almost forty years and flying drones for a decade.

Brian Caswell was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he still lives today. He is a project manager in the automotive engineering industry and owns a motorsports photography business named SpeedShot Photography that follows snowmobile, auto, and boat racing. He has been photographing for twenty years and experimenting with drones for the past two. Brian has been featured in several magazines and newspapers, but most recently in Railfan and Railroad magazine.

William Diehl, “Steam, Semaphores, and Stars”

This presentation will encapsulate the first twenty years of William’s railroad photography career. Highlights will include the former Denver and Rio Grande Western network, the rails around southern Arizona, and the railroads that encompass much of the former Santa Fe Railway network in Arizona and New Mexico.

William is a railroad veteran based in the southwestern United States with over sixteen years working on the rails. Born in the small cattle town of Willcox, Arizona, William has roamed much of the southwest before settling in Albuquerque.

Tom Gildersleeve, “The Adventures (and Misadventures) of a Lifelong Kodaholic

Tom will share highlights from his celebrated career, including his groundbreaking slide duplication process and synchronized flash night photography. He’ll take us back as far as the early 1950s and present images across the United States from the Rio Grande Western to the electrified rails on the northern corridor.

Tom Gildersleeve is a native Californian and holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Stanford University. After graduation, he served for three years as a lieutenant in the Air Force and went on to a forty-year career with the California Department of Transportation.

Tom is a self-taught photographer, and his work has been extensively published in books, magazines, and calendars. Early on he developed a passion for putting a dramatically changing railroad scene on film and developed his own style of photography to record it. That included creating the apparatus to take night photographs of trains with synchronized flash. He also pioneered the process to create high-quality duplicate slide sets with equipment he personally designed.

Tom received the Winterail Hall of Fame award for his photography in 2012 and in 2014 received The Fred R. and Jane A. Stindt Photography Award from the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society for both his own photography and his preservation work on color images of other early railroad photographers. His slide collection will eventually be donated to the Center for Railroad Photography and Art.

Gordon Glattenberg, “Wasted Youth”

Gordon will take the audience on a journey through his storied career from his earliest days growing up in southern California to the beginning and development of his breathtaking photography. From Southern Pacific lines in California to UP on Sherman Hill and 1960s Mexico City, Gordon has traveled extensively to explore new railroads and distant places.

Gordon was born in Los Angeles and is a lifelong Californian. He attended the California Institute of Technology and made a career in the aerospace industry. Gordon became interested in rail photography in the mid-1950s while in college. Since then, he has visited forty-five countries and fifty states while shooting mostly Kodachrome slides at ASA 10 and later 25. He co-authored the book Southland with Tom Gildersleeve and the late Hank Mills.

David Tutwiler, “A Fine Art Career – Up in Smoke”
Liné Tutwiler, “Surviving in the Arts –  A Fine Art Career”

While David and Line’ often refer to themselves as ‘struggling artists’, their reputation and prolific careers speak for themselves in terms of their success. The talented painting duo will showcase some of their best work.

David holds the honor of having his paintings hang in some of America’s most prestigious collections, both public and private. He began painting at the young age of fourteen with a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago. He went on to study and graduate from the American Academy of Art with an associate degree in technology with a major in fine art. In addition to being one of America’s foremost painters of steam-era railroad subjects, his portfolio also includes significant works depicting traditional American landscapes and coastal subjects of the sea coasts and the Duneland shore of the Great Lakes.

Line’ has devoted her life to the love of family, faith, and her interpretation of the beauty that surrounds and inspires her, especially the beautiful effects of light and shadow found in America’s neighborhoods, landscapes, and street scenes. She studied at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. Her career has spanned over thirty years and she has won both national and state awards.

Steve Smedley, “Rails: A Photojournalist’s Journey”

Steve Smedley in West Chicago, Illinois on Tuesday 24 January 2023.
Photo by Mark Llanuza

Award-winning photojournalist Steve Smedley will showcase railroad employees at work. With a focus on the Midwest, Steve has a distinct talent for capturing the real and human moments of railroading. “I’ve always loved telling stories through the lens,” says Steve, and as a lifelong railroad photographer, Steve has many moments to share.

Steve Smedley is a photojournalist based in Central Illinois. He worked for thirty-two years at The Pantagraph in Bloomington, Illinois, after working for the Peoria-Journal Star in Peoria, Illinois. Steve received a Humanitarian Award from the National and Illinois Press Photographers Association for discovering a fire and helping rescue children from a Bloomington house fire in 1989. He has covered strikes, murders, tornadoes, cancer patients, and politicians through his photojournalism.

CRP&A Collections Updates

The Center’s collections staff will unveil recently processed photography and discuss new cataloging and preservation plans. Director of archives & collections Adrienne Evans and associate archivist Heather Sonntag will share highlights from the Richard Steinheimer and Shirley Burman Steinheimer Collection. Adrienne will also give general updates regarding collections growth and new developments at the Center. Reference and digital projects archivist Erin Rose will discuss her work with the John C. Illman Collection as well as other responsibilities. Acquisitions & marketing coordinator Elrond Lawrence will show highlights from his work with the Center’s newest collection donors.

Adrienne Evans received a master’s degree from UW-Madison’s School of Library Information Studies in 2014. She worked at History Colorado for two years before coming to the Center in 2017.

Elrond Lawrence has been the Center’s acquisitions & marketing coordinator since last year. In addition to publicity and communications, Elrond works with collection donors to ensure the smooth transfer of their materials into the Center’s archive. His career has spanned writing, photography, and communications.

Heather Sonntag is an associate archivist with the Center and is currently processing slides from the Richard Steinheimer and Shirley Burman Steinheimer Collection. She holds a doctorate in cultural history and a masters in library and information science from UW-Madison.

Erin Rose joined the Center in 2017 as an intern, and she returned in 2021 to the new role of reference and digital projects archivist. She answers image requests, processes collections, and has managed the migration of files for the Center’s adoption of a new collections management system.

Anthony D’Amato

Anthony D’Amato will perform at the Conversations Friday Banquet – April 14th

“Long Haul,” the latest single from Anthony D’Amato’s recent album At First There Was Nothing, was shot entirely on Super 8 film and includes scenes from the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

Those attending the Friday banquet will be treated to a special performance by award-winning musician Anthony D’Amato. Currently touring across Europe, Anthony is taking a break from his busy schedule to perform for us and share another one of his hobbies – railroad photography. D’Amato’s latest album At First There Was Nothing was released last fall with an accompanying photobook that features several stunning shots from the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. In an interview with NPR Antony said, “Photography has really been an important part of my creative expression and way of connecting with audiences.” This spurred the idea of releasing a book of photography with the album that included song lyrics, essays, and a download code for the songs. “That way you can have this experience of losing yourself in the visual component. And to me, these images are all really connected to the songs.” While in Durango, Anthony also filmed the music video for the track “Long Haul,” which was shot entirely on Super 8 film. Check out the full music video HERE

Anthony’s performance can only be seen with a purchased ticket to the Friday Banquet.


Watch some of Anthony’s live performances
NPR Tiny Desk Concert:
CBS Saturday Morning:


Photo credits, Vivian Wang
Anthony D’Amato at Brooklyn Bowl January 31, 2016.


Interview with the D’Amato Brothers

Following the musical set, Antony will be joined on stage by his brother Nick D’Amato. Also a talented photographer, Nick took first prize in our 2017 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program for his shot of a Canadian Pacific freight train traversing Morant’s Curve along the Bow River in Alberta, Canada. Growing up in New Jersey, the two brothers were both romanced by the rails under the influence of their father, Chris D’Amato, who worked for both Railfan & Railroad and later Railroad Model Craftsman magazines.
Nick’s image of a Canadian Pacific freight train traversing Morant’s Curve along the Bow River near Lake Louise, Alberta, on the night of February 11, 2015, won first prize in our 2017 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program.

Schedule at a Glance

Look at the campus map for locations

-Glen Rowan House (23)
-Calvin Durand Hall (22)
-Brown Hall (12)

Friday, April 14

5 – 7 pm: Conference reception, (Glen Rowan House)
7 – 9 pm: Dinner, (Calvin Durand Hall) *additional purchase
Entertainment: Music by Anthony D’Amato, followed by an interview featuring his brother Nicholas D’Amato, 8 pm


Saturday, April 15

8 – 9 am: Coffee and pastries, (Brown Hall)
9 – 9:15 am: Welcome
9:15 – 10:00 am: David and Liné Tutwiler
10:00 – 10:30 am: Break
10:30 – 11:15 am: Brian Caswell & Chris Guss
11:15 am – 12:00 pm: CRP&A Updates
12:00 – 1 pm: Lunch (Calvin Durand)
1 – 1:45 pm: CRP&A Collection Updates
1:45 – 2:15 pm: Docent presentations
2:15 – 3:00 pm: Steve Smedley
3 – 3:30 pm: Break
3:30 – 4:15 pm: Gordon Glattenberg
4:15 – 5 pm: Tom Gildersleeve
5 – 7 pm: Reception (Brown Hall)
7 – 9 pm: Dinner, (Calvin Durand Hall) *additional purchase


Sunday, April 16

8 – 9 am: Coffee and pastries, (Brown Hall)
9 – 9:45 am: CRP&A Collections Update
9:45 – 10:15 am: Break
10:15 – 11 am: Eugene Armer
11 – 11:45 am: William Diehl

Lodging suggestions

Hotel rooms are available at:
*Room blocks are not being offered due to underuse in recent years

Hilton Garden Inn
26225 N. Riverwoods Boulevard
Mettawa, IL 60045, 847-735-8374

Residence Inn Chicago Lake Forest Mettawa
26325 N. Riverwoods Boulevard
Mettawa, IL 60045, 847-615-2701