After two years of online programs, the Center for Railroad Photography & Art’s annual conference, Conversations 2022, returns to an in-person gathering the weekend of April 8-10 hosted at Lake Forest College in Illinois, 30 miles north of Chicago. This year’s presenter lineup includes exciting talks from outstanding photographers and artists across the country, plus presentations from the Center’s publications and collections teams. Attendees will learn about the Center’s newest hardcover book on contemporary rail photography, Continuity & Change, and have the exclusive opportunity to purchase advance copies.
The three-day conference will begin with a reception and dinner on Friday, April 8, followed by entertainment by rising country music star and rail photographer Erik Shicotte (hear his song “Miss’ry Pacific”). Saturday’s lunch is included with registration, and a Saturday evening social hour and optional dinner will allow attendees extra time for talking with friends and fellow photographers. Younger photographers will also attend the conference thanks to docent scholarships.
The Center for Railroad Photography & Art is celebrating its 25th year in 2022 and is growing faster than ever, with nearly half a million railroad images in its collection. The Center continues to preserve significant images of railroading and share them through exhibitions, books, an acclaimed quarterly magazine, social media, and online events.
Below is a preview of this year’s event. For more information, visit the Center’s website and register online or via mail by Monday, March 28. Capacity is limited and filling fast.
Karen Parker – Gene Huddleston and the C&O: 1947 to 1959
Karen Parker will examine Gene Huddleston’s photography of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway during the steam to diesel transition. Gene began seriously taking pictures of the C&O in 1947, when he was 16, and continued until his death in 2011. He was a founder of the C&O Historical Society and wrote many books and articles on the C&O and other railroad subjects. Gene’s primary emphasis in his photography was to get out along the railroad and capture its operations in their place and time.
Lee Alban – It’s My Way or the Railway
Lee’s presentation will take you on a journey from inside the studio to galleries and travels throughout the U.S. and Europe, exploring various subjects in still life, portraiture, and landscape. His life as an artist has been an adventure, from vintage toys, the history of oil exploration, nostalgic diners, western landscapes, cowboy art, and more. In 2011, he began photographing and painting railway scenes featuring the age of steam. You’ll see stages in the development of paintings from start to finish with close up views of portraits, railroad landscapes, and machinery.
Dennis Livesey – 10,000 and Beyond: Pictures on a Path
With a three-decade-long career in the motion picture industry and a lifelong passion and hobby of railroad photography, Dennis Livesey will share a retrospective on his many years of photographing trains. Dennis has been passionate about railroads, photography, and life since the Eisenhower administration, allowing him to see, photograph, and work on amazing trains here and abroad. He is also the author of the hardcover photography book Smoke Over Steamtown.
Mark Llanuza – Abandoned Railroads in the Midwest: Before and After
Mark Llanuza looks back at more than five decades of railroading at busy main lines and train stations since 1970. With the advent of Conrail and the countless mergers since, once-busy branch lines were abandoned and eventually turned into bike paths. Armed with a talent for viewing life through a camera lens, Mark will share his explorations of these changed spaces. Mark works for Metra in the mechanical department and as their part-time company photographer.
Samuel Phillips – Appalachian Railroading: Through My Eyes
Samuel Phillips grew up in Virginia, and the Appalachian region has been the driving motivation for the majority of his photography. Growing up along the former Norfolk & Western and Virginian railroads, his interest and passion for trains and photography lie within the realm of Appalachian railroading. His show will focus on scenes that move him and capture the way he sees the railroad environment.
Mike Raia – Chicagoland Photography Selections from the Raia Collection
Mike Raia was born into a railroading family and as consequence has always had an interest in trains. Mike started photographing trains at the age of four when his father gave him a Brownie camera. He then started joining his dad on railfan outings in the Chicagoland area. His dad Bill accumulated one of the largest steam negative collections in the country. This presentation is a representation of some of the images from the Chicagoland area in the Raia Collection. Numerous photographers are represented including Bill and Mike Raia, spanning the 1930s to today.
Contributors of The Railroad and the Art of Place: An Anthology and the upcoming Continuity & Change
Learn about the making of these two landmark photography books and be the first to purchase copies of Continuity & Change (above), which will be available to the public in September. Additional books published by the Center will also be available.
Images from the CRP&A Collections Team
Get an exclusive update on the Center’s fast-growing archive from Archivist Adrienne Evans, Acquisitions & Marketing Coordinator Elrond Lawrence, and the CRP&A Archive Team, who will share updates and new images from photographers who have entrusted their collections to the Center.