Welcome to Photo Line!Founded in 1997, the Center for Railroad Photography & Art, works with photographers, writers, and historians around the world to offer a new and unprecedented view of the railroad's influence on American culture through the preservation and presentation of art and photography. The CRPA does not maintain a museum space but collaborates with other institutions, using the majority of its resources for creative programs. Since the beginning, the Center's goal has been to offer high-quality public programs associated with photography and art works in all media. Their annual "Conversations about Photography" sets the pace for national discussion about contemporary railroad photography and encourages young photographers to become a part of the community. Consider attending their tenth annual "Conversations" conference, April 13-15, on the campus of co-sponsor Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois. Here is a sampling of some of the work from this year's presenters.
Drake Hokanson, La Crosse, Wisconsin, will kickoff this year’s Conversations on Friday night with a look at his current project to photograph the route of the original transcontinental railroad. A regular conference attendee, Hokanson is an emeritus professor at Winona (Minnesota) State University, teaching part time and doing photography, editing, and writing. He describes himself as an independent, organic, free-range scholar. Perhaps best known for his photographs, exhibition, and book on the Lincoln Highway, his other projects include a visual study of prairie towns and river towns, agricultural fairs, the Mississippi River, grain, and the vast American Great Plains.
Shirley Burman Steinheimer
Shirley Burman Steinheimer, Sacramento, California, a photographer and photo-historian, headlines Saturday’s lineup. She will take a photographic look back at the beginning of her romance with legendary railroad photography Richard Steinheimer—the second marriage for both of them—on the snow-covered slopes of California’s Donner Pass. She fondly remembers that the first time he asked her out on a date, he also asked, “What size snowshoes do you wear?” That was in 1983, near the end of the worst winter on the pass since 1867.
Bill Botkin, Centennial, Colorado, has been shooting photographs for more than 50 years. In that time, he has pursued a variety of subjects, both railroad and non-railroad, using color and black and white mediums. His passion has been to document the passing of steam locomotives in action around the world. His presentation will explore some of the aspects of black and white photography that, in his mind, make it a more powerful medium than color and why shooting film and printing in a wet darkroom are still preferable in this digital age.
Henry Posner III
Henry Posner III, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is Chairman of the Railroad Development Corporation and has thus found himself in numerous situations around the world where he was the only rail photographer on the spot—or even in the country. He will share the focus of his photography, which is documenting operations and history in the making, as part of stories that might otherwise go untold.
Tom Fawell, West Chicago, Illinois, had a long career as a commercial artist, including two decades of designing advertising artwork for EMD’s newest locomotives in the 1960s and 70s. He will share his railroad work and discuss his approach to painting.
Chris Starnes, Gate City, Virginia, is co-founder of the popular photo-sharing site RailPictures.Net. Starnes will discuss his site and the Internet’s impact on railroad photography, sharing the work of several photographers. The above photo, made by Ron Flanary in LaGrange, Kentucky, on August 9, 2002, has been the opening banner for RailPictures from the site’s inception.
Christian Goepel, Larkspur, California, is a graduate of San Francisco State University’s journalism program and a long-time transportation historian, photographer, and writer. His keen interest in railroads and public transit, industrial archaeology, urban sociology, interpersonal communication, and photojournalism techniques developed in his native Chicago and spread to other U.S. cities, including his adopted hometown of San Francisco. He will discuss his work recording changes in the cultural landscape surrounding the nation’s railroads, transit, highways, and ports.
Steve Crise, Pomona, California, is a professional photographer, long-time conference attendee, and past presenter. On Sunday morning, he will discuss the publishing opportunities that are available to railroad photographers through Arcadia Publishing's "Then & Now" series. His book with co-author Michael A. Patris, Pacific Electric Railway Then & Now, is the first railroad title in the series. Its success (the first run has nearly sold out) helps create an opportunity for both first time authors and seasoned professionals. Crise will discuss the book’s concept and execution.
Joel Jensen, Ely, Nevada, will discuss his approach to railroad photography on Sunday morning. Jensen photographs railroads and a variety of other subjects throughout the American West, and he will share some of his greatest influences from outside railroad photography. His new book, Steam: An Enduring Legacy (W.W. Norton, 2011), was a collaboration with the Center.
Join the CRPA for 2012 Conversations about Photography, April 13-15, Lake Forest, Illinois. More details are available on our their web site.