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photo-eye at SPE

Nearing San Francisco and view from the hotel -- images by Melanie McWhorter
photo-eye Staff made our annual trek to Society for Photographic Education National Conference earlier this month, this year held in San Francisco. The four-day event is packed with fantastic, informative panels and lectures and an exhibition hall stuffed to the edges with camera equipment, darkroom supplies, digital technology, educational materials and, of course, photography books. We hosted a wealth of book signings – Sally Mann co-sponsored by Aperture and, at our booth, many SPE regulars like Arno Minkkinen and Mark Klett, 2012 SPE speakers Jennifer Greenburg, Chad States and Mike Mandel and San Francisco residents Beth Yarnelle Edwards, Jason Fulford, David Maisel and Paccarik Orue, among others. Although all signings were successful and we sold out of most books, we may have a few copies of some signed copies including books by Maisel, Minkkinen, States, Edwards and Klett en route to us and we will announce them as we get the shipment on hand.

photo-eye's booth at SPE and the Sally Mann book signing
On the final night of SPE, the galleries around 49 Geary were open for a self-guided gallery walk. I was delighted to see my friend and former photo-eye Magazine Editor Darius Himes at Fraenkel Gallery. Darius took us on a special tour of the back rooms at Fraenkel and, along with photographers Lara Shipley and Michael Rauner, we stopped by Diane Arbus prints and proceed and lusted after the Richard Learoyd photos while discussing his process and, thanks to Michael, the metaphysical effects of the dilated pupil on our attraction to the images. Since our time was limited by packing up books after the fair, we neglected many of the other galleries in the area but we managed to rushed down the hall to visit our friends at Modernbook. Mark Pinsukanjana and Danny Sanchez welcomed me with a big hug and smilingly presented an advance copy of the long-awaited new Tom Chambers book, Entropic Kingdom. We took some photos, glanced over the shoulder of Susan Kae Grant showing her work and were off to dinner at House of Nanking (highly recommended Chinese food!).

Darius Himes, Michael Rauner and Lara Shipley at Fraenkel -- Danny Sanchez and Mark Pinsukanjana from Modernbook
With the fair over, we were also happy to have a little free time to visit San Francisco MOMA which is currently showing three photographic exhibitions: Rineke Dijkstra’s A Retrospective, Picturing Modernity and Photography in Mexico. All three exhibitions were outstanding and I was most impressed with Dijkstra’s films and the lush, sharp qualities of her prints. Photography in Mexico included works by Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Graciela Iturbide, Pedro Meyer and contemporary working artists like Alejandro Cartagena and Lourdes Grobet; a wonderful show of the extensive and rich history of photography in this country. Before leaving, we had to visited the classic Manuel Alvarez Bravo’s Woman Combing Her Hair and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera’s pieces.
Seafood at Swan Oyster Depot
Yet, despite my dedication to art, I'd say that food would win out every time. I would recommend (as it was recommended to me) the seafood from Swan Oyster Depot. We had prawns, oysters and crab as our last stop out of town and they were all delicious! Make sure to get some of the Louie sauce.

SPE was sold out in San Francisco this year and for good reason. The schedule of panels and lectures with the theme of Intimacy and Voyeurism: The Public / Private Divide in Photography was amazing -- so much so that we did not have many visitors on the first day of the conference. The chairs this year, Betsy Schneider and Erika Gentry, really outdid themselves and we look forward to the next year’s event in Chicago, IL. Thanks to all our helpers including Nina Barcellona, Alex Kidd, Shannon Randol, Lara Shipley and Chris Levine. -- Melanie McWhorter