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2020 SPE Annual Conference: Hosted by The University of Houston | Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts | School of Art

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Past SPE Annual Conferences

West Chapter | Conferences

SPE West Chapter includes:
California, Hawaii, Nevada

Chair Amanda Dahlgren
Treasurer Ken Marchionno
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Past Conferences

Tahoe CoLab

Creativity, Community, and Collaboration

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

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.

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 a 20 mile drive south and then it is an additional 52 mile drive around the lake with scenic wonders at each mile. For those who search for the cultural aspects of a region, a fifteen 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 food included. 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.

  • Registration fees, paid directly to SPE:

    • Regular, Senior, Sustaining member: $90

    • Adjunct/part-time: $55

    • Student: $25

    • Non-member: $190

    • Student non-member: $60

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 (West)

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, 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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Act: Transformation, Performance, and Revolution

New York Film Academy - Burbank, CA   |   November 14 - November 16, 2014

The theme of the 2014 SPE West Conference is "Act: transformation, performance, and revolution". The conference location of Burbank, CA calls to mind ideas about performance and the transformative power of both still photography and motion pictures. The word "act" is also indicative of photography's ability to create change and bring about transformation, or even revolution.

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On the Brink: Photography as Witness

Humboldt State University & Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center - Humboldt County, California   |   October 11 - October 13, 2013

The 2013 SPE West Regional Conference, co-hosted by Humboldt State University, was a delightful weekend on the north redwood coast of California with 75 attendees. Speakers included Brian Ulrich & Young Suh. Friday was devoted to day-long training opportunities including: Adobe InDesign for Photographers with Rick Febre, Digital Video with Richard Newman, Digital Negatives with Carlos Arrieta from Rayko Photo Center, Copyright Law with Michelle Bogre and Grant Writing with Ellen Lake from the Kala Art Institute. Saturday was an extravaganza of image-maker presentations on the waterfront at the Humboldt Bay Aquatic Center. Additionally, First Street Gallery in Old Town Eureka hosted a reception for conference attendees that coincided with Young Suh's exhibition, Forest Invisible (Summary by Nicole Jean Hill) Conference Chair: Nicole Jean Hill

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Represent & Redefine

California College of the Arts - Oakland, California   |   October 05 - October 07, 2012

Represent and Redefine, was a wonderful weekend of connecting with colleagues, sharing work, learning new skills, and being inspired by terrific artist talks and one another. Hosted by the California College of the Arts in Oakland, CA, the regional conference brought together 125 attendees to share stories, learn new skills, and reconnect. Some of our speakers included Alessandra Sanguinetti, Center for Cultural Innovation, Chris Johnson, Darius Himes, Doug Dertinger, Esther Teichmann, Nigel Poor, and Richard Newman. Additionally, members attended professional development workshops covering grant writing, digital video, In Design and book design. (Summary by Lesley Louden & Nicole Jean Hill)

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Cabrillo College - Santa Cruz, California   |   November 18 - November 20, 2011

The 2011 SPE West Regional Conference "Survival" took place on November 18th and 19th, 2011 in Santa Cruz, California at Cabrillo College. The Honored Educator was Brian Taylor and the Keynote Speaker Liz Cohen. The 2011 SPE West Conference Co-Chairs were Jessica Hayes and Lesley Louden and Janet Fine CC Onsite Coordinator.

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New Sites

San Diego City College - San Diego, California   |   November 11 - November 12, 2010

The 2010 Society for Photographic Education (SPE) West regional conference "New Sites" took place on November 12th and 13th, 2010 in San Diego at San Diego City College and The Museum of Photographic Arts. The Honored Educator was John Divola and the Keynote Speaker was arts critic Lucy Lippard. The Conference Co-chairs were Julia Schlosser and Julia Bradshaw.

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Document & Identity

The Evergreen Conference Center - Oakhurst, California   |   December 04 - December 06, 2009

The 2009 SPE WEST Regional UnConference & Retreat "Document and Identity" took place in Oakhurst, CA Dec. 4-6, 2009. The Honored Educator was Robbert Flick and the Keynote Speaker was Catherine Opie. The conference chair and organizer Erika Gentry and Julia Bradshaw.

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Inspiration: action, influence, ideas

San Francisco Academy of Art University - San Francisco, California   |   November 13 - November 16, 2008

The 2008 SPEWEST Regional Conference "Inspiration: action, influence, ideas" took place on November 13-16,2008 in San Francisco, CA at the Academy of Art University. The keynote speaker was Alec Soth. The Conference Co-chairs were Erika Gentry and Kathleen Laraia McLaughlin, SPE WEST Co-Chairs & Connie Begg AAU Onsite Coordinator.

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