Like a Mushroom, Conversations Can’t Stop Growing

Ron Flanary and Mike DannemanRon Flanary (left) and Mike Danneman entertained and enlightened with their discussion of railroad photography and painting at Conversations 2014. Photograph by Henry A. Koshollek.

In the twelve years the Center has offered Conversations about Photography, it has grown from one day to three. And now, in 2014, it has posted attendance records for the third year in a row. The event has become the one of most important in the world for railroad photographers, and advance registration has become a necessity. So make plans now to attend the 2015 Conversations, April 10-12 at Lake Forest College, whose campus on Lake Michigan is a treat in spring weather. Comments about the 2014 event were overwhelmingly positive. Presentations, arrangements, and a terrific Sunday morning at the Chicago History Museum for a tour of Railroaders—all received bravos. Take a look at the visual record courtesy of photographer Henry A. Koshollek.

2014 Conference Sold-Out

The 2014 Conversations about Photography conference is sold-out. No tickets will be available at the door. The 2015 conference will be held April 10–12 on the campus of Lake Forest College. Tickets for the 2015 conference will go on sale in early January. We hope to see you there!

Conference Raffles: Plowden and Shaughnessy

2014 Raffles: David Plowden and Jim Shaughnessy
Framed photographs by David Plowden (left) and Jim Shaughnessy will be raffled at Conversations about Photography this year. The drawing for Shaughnessy’s print will be held Friday evening. Plowden himself will draw the winning ticket for his print at the end of Saturday’s presentations. Please note that you must be present to win.

Shaughnessy Print Raffle


Plowden Print Raffle

Jim Shaughnessy’s print shows Canadian Pacific Railway 4-6-2 steam locomotive no. 1257 stopping in Sherbrooke, Quebec, in 1957 with local passenger train no. 40. The 11×14 silver gelatin print was made by the photographer and is matted and framed in black metal to 20×24 inches.

“Freight train, west of Havre, Montana,” is one of Plowden’s signature railroad photographs—and one of his signature photographs of all time. The 1968 view shows boxcars in a Great Northern Railway train silhouetted against a dramatic sky with wheat fields in the foreground and a single car with an open door perfectly positioned near the right edge of the frame. The archival inkjet print is 11×14 inches and made by the photographer, matted and framed in black metal to 20×24 inches.

Tickets for each raffle are $10 each, $25 for three, $40 for five. You may purchase them online or at the conference. Please note that you must be present to win.

Print Program

You can also purchase limited edition prints by Victor Hand and Mitch Markovitz both online and at the 2014 conference via the Center’s Print Program.

Expanding Scholarship Program

Bluefield, West Virginia, by Samuel PhillipsNorfolk Southern’s former Norfolk & Western yard and coaling tower in Bluefield, West Virginia. Photograph by Samuel Phillips, one of four docent scholarship recipients selected for the Center’s 2014 conference.

Four young photographers will attend Conversations about Photography this year on all-expenses-paid docent scholarships. High interest and strong support from the conference’s growing number of patrons allowed the Center to double the number of 2013 scholarships.

This year’s winners are James Edgar, Johnson City, Tennessee; Jonathan Lee, Chicago; Amanda Oakes, Binghamton, New York, and Samuel Phillips, Radford, Virginia. Edgar and Lee are both photography students in college. Oakes has a lifelong photography interest; her fascination with trains began in 2010 and has already led to publications and work for Canadian Pacific. Phillips is still in high school but already has published extensively in Trains and other magazines.

As docents, the scholarship recipients will attend the entire conference and assist the Center’s staff members and volunteers throughout the weekend. “The conference planning committee was impressed by the high caliber of work that all four of the recipients submitted,” said Scott Lothes, the Center’s president and executive director. “We look forward to having them join us, and we thank the conference’s many patrons for making these awards possible.”

Railroaders: a Hit

DELANO EXIBITION-32
Visitors explore the “Around the Yards” section of the exhibition, which features a model classification yard and wall-sized enlargement of the Illinois Central roundhouse at Markham Yard. Photograph by Henry A. Koshollek; see more photographs of the opening weekend activities on the Center’s Flickr page.

Smashing. That one word sums up the Chicago opening of the Center’s and the Chicago History Museum’s Railroaders: Jack Delano’s Homefront Photography exhibition on April 3, 4 and 5. Well over 1,200 visitors viewed it on those three days—200 on Thursday for the museum’s opening reception for members, 350 on Friday for the Center’s own reception for descendants and family members of the portrait subjects, and 650 for the museum’s public opening on Saturday. Museum staff members were agog. One said that Center’s Friday event was “simply one of the finest in my years at the museum.” And the museum store posted record sales that night. Authors John Gruber, Pablo Delano, and Jack Holzhueter signed copies of the catalog steadily for about two hours. Joseph C. Szabo, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, gave the keynote remarks and blogged about his experience on the Department of Transportation’s website. Chicago publicity was over the top. The Chicago Tribune gave the show two-thirds of a page; the suburban Daily Herald featured it on its Friday front page; and a Sun-Times reviewer said that he was so touched by the film featuring Pablo Delano that he—a tough Chicago newsman—cried. We do not urge tears, but we do urge attendance and purchasing of a catalog.