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2019 SPE Annual Conference: The Myths of Photography and the American Dream / Major support by The Joy Family Legacy Foundation

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Past SPE Annual Conferences

Southwest Chapter | Conferences

SPE Southwest Chapter includes:
Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah

Chair Abbey Hepner
Vice Chair/Secretary Emma Powell
Treasurer Paul Sisson
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Past Conferences

Tahoe CoLab

Creativity, Community, and Collaboration

Granlibakken Tahoe - Granlibakken Tahoe, Tahoe City, California   |   November 03 - November 05, 2017

Travel Awards

Please contribute to the #SPETahoeAwards Generosity by Indiegogo campaign to send 4 talented and deserving students to the Tahoe CoLab Retreat:

  • Amy Elizabeth Johnson

  • Elizabeth Lee Freedman (also a Tahoe CoLab Image-Maker presenter)

  • Nick Simko

  • Ariel C. Wilson (also a Tahoe CoLab Image-Maker presenter)


Important Notes for Registration

Please note that you must reserve your lodging and meal package with Granlibakken Retreat Center separately by visiting or by calling (800) 543-3221.

All participants MUST be registered with Granlibakken as a retreat attendee or they will not be able to participate in the retreat. Reservations for Granlibakken are due by 10/3/2017 and any reservations received after this date are on a space available basis.

Retreat registration is done through this SPE website by clicking on the "register" link to the right.

On the pages that follow, be sure to choose only one activity for the Saturday 1–2 pm hour and a different one (and only one) for the 2–3 pm hour. Each activity is limited to 10 participants, the website will indicate if a particular activity is full.

Early bird retreat registration pricing ends October 1, 2017.

To get the full experience, we strongly recommend staying on site at Granlibakken for both nights. If you are interested in staying off site or only attending a portion of the retreat, please email us for options:


Retreat Information

Join us for Tahoe CoLab: an interactive, community-building retreat where we will explore the ways in which photographers collaborate with each other, with artists in different disciplines, with scholars in other fields such as science and the humanities, and with community members. The permutations are as endless as they are exciting.

We are thrilled to have Harrell Fletcher as our "weekend headliner!" He will be giving the keynote address on Friday evening, presenting a selection of socially engaged collaborative and interdisciplinary work from his 25+ year career as a social practice artist using photography. In addition, Harrell will lead us all in an exciting participatory project on Saturday afternoon.

Granlibakken Tahoe Resort, just minutes from the shores of Lake Tahoe, will be the retreat backdrop as we dine, slumber, learn, create, and collaborate with others from the West and Southwest chapters of SPE: students, educators, curators, artists, etc. Programming will include image-maker presentations, intimate roundtable conversations, portfolio sharing, nature and photography outings, and a collaborative project.

Granlibakken is located five minutes from Tahoe City in the Tahoe National Forest and about an hour drive from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, serviced by major airlines such as Alaska, American, Delta,jetBlue, Southwest, and United. From the retreat location, Emerald Bay State Park is a20 mile drive south and then it is an additional 52mile drive around the lake with scenic wonders at each mile. For those who search for the cultural aspects of a region,afifteen mile drive east will get you to the state line for the gambling and music at the Crystal Bay Club.

  • Retreat style, with lodging and foodincluded. Rates for the 2-nights, including all taxes. Paid directly to Granlibakken by visiting by calling (800) 543-3221.

    • Double occupancy: $367.20 per person

    • Single occupancy: $482.40 per person

    • Dorm-style (5–6 people per room): $220.80 per person

    • To get the full experience, we strongly recommend staying on site at Granlibakken for both nights. If you are interested in staying off site or only attending a portion of the retreat, please email us for options:

    • All participants MUST be registered with Granlibakken as a retreat attendee or they will not be able to participate in the retreat.

  • Registrationfees, paid directly to SPE:

    • Regular, Senior, Sustaining member: $75 early, $90 regular

    • Adjunct/part-time: $40 early, $55 regular

    • Student: $20 early, $25 regular

    • Non-member: $190

    • Student non-member: $60

    • Early bird deadline is October 1, 2017

  • Retreat activities:

    • Retreat programming to start Friday at 5:30 pm with a hosted cocktail reception and juried exhibition presentation

    • Keynote Speaker: Social Practice Artist Harrell Fletcher

    • Participatory Workshop Project led by Harrell Fletcher

    • Wet plate collodion giant van camera demo by Ian Ruhter

    • Honored educators' (West and Southwest) talks

    • 15-minute image-maker presentations

    • Roundtable discussions on a variety of topics

    • Portfolio sharing

    • Hiking and photography outings

    • Programming to end Sunday at 1 pm after lunch

    Cancellation Policy:

    Conference registration is non-transferable and requests for a full refund must be received in writing to by October 16, 2017. After October 16, 2017, cancellations are subject to a $25 processing fee. The cancellation policy applies to all circumstances (including severe weather, natural disaster, flight cancellations, etc.).

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Hunting + Gathering: Trends in Photo Books and Image Archives (Southwest)

University of Arizona, Center for Creative Photography - Tucson, AZ   |   November 04 - November 06, 2016

Hunting and Gathering: Trends in Photo Books and Image Archives

Physical and online platforms dedicated to the interpretation, collection and distribution of photographic image content have blossomed over the last decade. Simultaneously the photo book has enjoyed a resurgence - with a proliferation of innovative trade and independently published titles. Artist-made books that function as a malleable narrative vehicle and the image archive, in service to various conceptual frameworks, have remapped the way we consume and engage with pictures.

The 2016 West/Southwest Regional SPE conference will bring together speakers and panelists to discuss the latest developments in photographic books and image collections. Participants will examine the ways in which bodies of images are amassed, curated, narrated, sequenced, cross-referenced, published and distributed to create new forms of visual meaning.

  • November 4–6, 2016

  • Tucson, AZ

    • University of Arizona

    • Center for Creative Photography

    • Pima Community College

    • Southwest University of Visual Arts

    • Etherton Gallery

This is a joint conference between the West and Southwest regions.

Schedule is posted on this website. Subject to change.

Please note that you must make your reservation at the Aloft conference hotel by 10/18/16 in order to receive the discounted rate, subject to availability.

If you will be arriving early to Tucson, we recommend the following events on Thursday, November 3:

  • Exhibition: LOUIS CARLOS BERNAL: Arizona Unseen, Color Photographs 1978 - 1988

    • Louis Carlos Bernal Gallery, Pima Community College, West Campus

    • Reception: November 3, 5–7 p.m.

    • This landmark exhibit features previously unseen color images by late photographer Louis Carlos Bernal.

  • Library Exhibition and Discussion: Remembering and Forgetting with Memorials and Through Sailor’s Eyes

    • University of Arizona Special Collections, 1510 E. University Blvd.

    • November 3, 6–8 pm

    • Professor Susan Crane questions how memorials participate in both remembering and forgetting major events or historical personages. Special Collections Director Steve Hussman explores primary resource materials such as diaries, photographs, and other materials that convey a sailor’s life on a battleship.

Conference Pricing:

Adjunct/Part-Time SPE Members: $55
Regular, Senior, and Sustaining SPE Members: $90
Student SPE Members: $25
Non-members: $190
Student non-members: $60

Cancellation Policy:

Conference registration is non-transferable and requests for a full refund must be received in writing to by October 16, 2016. After October 16, 2016, cancellations are subject to a $25 processing fee. The cancellation policy applies to all circumstances (including severe weather, natural disaster, flight cancellations, etc.).

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SPE Southwest and West Joint Retreat

Joshua Tree Conference Center - Joshua Tree, CA   |   November 13 - November 15, 2015

Go to for more information and TO REGISTER.

Experience the natural beauty and creative character of Joshua Tree with an all inclusive retreat weekend at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and son, Lloyd). Conference programming will include Honored Educators Sant Khalsa (CSUSB) and Mark Klett (ASU), guest speakers, round-table discussions, and portfolio sharing as well as field trips to the National Park, Andrea Zittel's A-Z West Home and Studio and High Desert Test Sites, Noah Purifoy's Art Park, Sounds Baths at the Integratron and more.

Relax and rejuvenate with SPE friends at the pool and jacuzzi, star gazing at the night skies or on a hike or meditation walk. You’ll be nestled in with your colleagues in retreat style accommodations and served a delicious and fresh catered menu (with options for special diet restrictions) by renowned local chef, Rosa Ficara. Prepare yourself for a unique experience at the the Joshua Tree Retreat Center (JTRC), the oldest and largest retreat center in the Western United States. JTRC is considered to be an architectural landmark, a sacred site, and location of 18 energy vortices. We will show our respect for the longtime custom of the retreat center of removing our shoes when entering some of the conference meeting rooms and be mindful that there are others on the premises engaged in silent meditation

Join your colleagues to enjoy "Pop Up Pix" a 15 minute presentation style format showcasing new works by your peers, intimate round table "Casual Conversation" discussions, yoga, excursions, live music dance party, casual portfolio reviews and plain old hanging out and star gazing. As a bonus, participants arriving early or staying on will have the opportunity to attend pre and post-conference programming, tours and experiences as well as explore the Joshua Tree National park and other free sights. The Mojave Desert landscape and the eclectic Joshua Tree community is sure to please.

You must be a current SPE member to attend. Renew your SPE National membership BEFORE you register for this retreat or your registration will be cancelled. Pack your hiking shoes, layered clothing and sun protection for varied weather conditions, don't forget your camera gear and get in the spirit for a special joint SPE West and Southwest Retreat.

FEES: Includes conference fee, 6 gourmet meals and 2 night stay (Fri/Sat) at JT Retreat Center.
$355 shared double, triple or quad+ lodging
$325 single gender cottages (7 people each)
$275 co-ed dorm room lodging
$225 camping onsite
$200 no onsite lodging - conference and meals only
+ $4.75 registration software fee
+ 5% Visa processing fee OR 6% AMEX processing fee


Registration is open until November 1, 2015.

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A Collective Vision

Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake Community College's Arts & Cultural Events (ACE) Program - Salt Lake City, UT   |   October 17 - October 19, 2014

The goal of this conference is to help bridge the gap between state boundaries, institutions, and professional or artistic genres to join together with this common passion. "A Collective Vision" will provide the opportunity to share the diverse and unique experience each of us has with photography in hopes to provide a rich learning environment and social network for all.

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Letters to An Emerging Artist

Colorado Photographic Arts Center - Tivoli Student Union, Denver, CO   |   October 12 - October 13, 2013

The 2013 Southwest regional conference took place on October 14th in Denver Colorado. The primary location for the conference was the Tivoli Student Union on the Auraria Campus. On Friday evening there was an opening of student work at the Colorado Photographic Arts Center and a lecture by artist Bonny Lhotka at Walker Fine Art. Our conference was planned with a very short time window, beginning in the summer. The three regional officers co-chaired this event. The conference brought together invited speakers from each state in our region to give advice to emerging artists. Photo Eye book editor Melanie McWhorter spoke about the explosion in the photography book publishing market. Professors Betsy Schneider, Patrick Manning, and Terry Martin all gave advice about how to keep an artistic practice going outside of the academic environment. Paul Weinrauch, commercial photographer and ASMP representative gave an extremely informative lecture about copyright and licensing issues. Finally, the Curator of Photography at the Denver Art Museum spoke about the relationship between artists and museums. We hosted a portfolio walk-through on Saturday afternoon with invited reviewers from the local arts community. On Saturday evening, three filmmakers showed their films and participated in a Q&A session with the audience. It was an energizing and successful conference! (Summary by Patti Hallock) Conference Chairs: Patti Hallock, Megan Jacobs, Samantha Johnston

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- Fort Collins, Colorado   |   November 01 - November 03, 2012

The weekend started out with great energy. To our surprise at least another 30-40 onsite registrants showed up on Friday morning. By mid-afternoon an engaged crowd was in conversation with speaker Jeremias Paul. Featured Speaker Aline Smithson ended on a wonderful note with her mix of humor and inspiration. Immediately following was her book signing and the opening reception for the SPESW Members' Exhibition at C4FAP.

Saturday kicked off with portfolio reviews and an informative professional development demonstration with Laura Pressley from CENTER and Jessamyn Lovell. One of the conference rooms was set with tables for informal portfolio sharing throughout the day. A highlight of the afternoon was the graduate student presentation "Heat Wave", showcasing the work and commitment of students to work alongside one another. The afternoon kicked off with humor and laughter with Bill Adams, and ended with Keynote Speaker Phil Toledano's entertaining wry sense of humor and somewhat outrageous projects that summed up the underlying theme of "Delusion". The conference closed with the raffle, which generated around $600, and all proceeded to the Center for Fine Art Photography for a closing party. (Summary by Tomiko Jones)

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