10:15-11 a.m.

Presenter: Dave Samson, photo editor, Forum Communications 

Location: Jones A/B, Knutson Campus Center

Sports images are often thrilling, capturing something deep about a human desire to achieve. But excellent sports photography is very difficult, with challenges ranging from simple access to capturing the decisive moment. This talk will unpack how a sports photographer goes about the task and tell stories about memorable Forum images from a variety of sports.

Presenter: Dr. Gregory Carlson, professor of communication studies, Concordia

Location: Olin 124

Legendary filmmaker Albert Maysles said, “There are moments where [shooting] would be exploitative, where it could be a damage to that person to film them, and I don’t film in those circumstances.” In the PEAK course COM 493: Documentary and Historical Film, Concordia students engage with community members and organizations to devise and produce short, nonfiction films that bring together techniques of visual storytelling in a variety of documentary modes.

As relationships between artist and subject develop, what are the responsibilities of the producers to ethical engagement? This session, which includes short film clips and examples, will explore traditional and contemporary documentary production through a conversation addressing both practical and theoretical dimensions of visual storytelling. The importance of talent and location release forms, obligations to subjects and viewers, recognition of power differentials between makers and on-camera interviewees, and the importance of clarifying frameworks for collaboration are some of the ideas that will be explored.

Presenter: Jon Solinger, local photographer and arts council board member

Location: Old Main 332

Do photographs and words need each other? In Solinger’s “Deep Roots: Sustaining a Living Community” project, photographs and text become parallel portraits of people and place. Image and text live side by side on the gallery exhibit pieces, not as image-and-caption or story-and-illustration, but as distinct depictions of the subject, together building a more complete picture.

For the “Deep Roots” project, he visited 13 sustainable food producers’ workplaces in his rural neighborhood, documenting their work and thoughts. He interviewed the subjects, asking about the what and how of their work, but emphasizing the why. Trust and understanding grew from those conversations, guiding his photographic portraits, while the interview transcripts generated revealing self-portraits in words.

During this concurrent session, Solinger will describe how the project came to be and his experience of meeting, interviewing, and photographing people in their personal spaces. He’ll show how using text from the subjects’ interviews adds context and authenticity to the visual record by describing each subject’s particular place in their local culture. Fascinating people, and their workplaces rarely seen by outsiders, are always nearby and worth documenting.

During the session, we will consider words and images used together in journalism, documentaries, social media, or anywhere else, asking whether we always need words. What value do they add? How can a photographer put them to work in building a visual record?

Presenter: Dr. Ross Collins, professor of communication, North Dakota State University

Location: Old Main 302

Many photography histories emphasize the growth of photography as an art form, as a technology, or as a mass medium for publication. Collins proposes to examine the history of photography as an evolution from the nearly exclusive domain of a professional to an everyday activity for everyone. That is, the growth of vernacular photography. This has reached a pinnacle today now that digital photography and cellphones have taken away any gatekeeper between the photographer and the photo — be it the film manufacturer, the darkroom technician, the color lab, the newspaper editor, or even our budget, as photography has fallen from a somewhat expensive hobby to a nearly free one.

The march away from pro and toward amateur certainly includes Kodak’s roll film that is most famous, but history shows amateurs were keen photographers using large format dry plates even before that. Box cameras for kids evolved into Instamatics for everybody, then 35 mm SLRs became automated for those who didn’t care about optics but did want better quality. The real revolution in vernacular photography paired digital with smartphone. What has that meant to society? What has it meant to professional photography? What can we expect in the coming years?

Presenter: Allison Bundy, archivist, Concordia

Location: Carl B. Ylvisaker Library

The visual history of Concordia College has been thoroughly documented through a rich photographic record. The Concordia College Archives has more than 40,000 images depicting the college, its faculty, and its students during its 132-year history. When members of the Concordia and wider community envision the visual history of the college, they imagine images taken by professional photographers employed by the college for specific purposes. But students have a long history of photographing themselves, their friends, and their activities while at Concordia, documenting an amateur lens that lends itself to insights on student and campus life unseen by professional photographers. These informal photographs offer a different, intimate view of what Concordia has been to its students. They act as Concordia’s unofficial visual record, one that shows student life outside of the classroom, and away from the view of a professional photographer.

The format this session will take is that of an exhibition that will allow viewers to walk through a visual history of Concordia through the lens of a student’s camera. Research in the archives will be conducted with the assistance of a heritage and museum studies student intern. The exhibition will be organized with support from members of the art department and will include photographs from the 1920s through the present day. Not only will these photographs show the life of students at Concordia through 100 years, but they will also show the evolution of how photographs are taken by amateur photographers.

Presenters: Joseph Kennedy, instructional designer; Laurie Probst, library director; Dr. Teri Langlie, professor of education; Dr. Darin Ulness, professor of chemistry — Concordia

Location: Jones C/D, Knutson Campus Center

Session attendees will leave with tools to help them determine if images have likely been created by AI and will understand the dangers of such images. A fake picture can mislead voters, ruin a career, or drive a person to self-harm — and the AI tools to create realistic but fake photographs are now available to anyone with an internet connection! In this session, you’ll be asked to determine which photos are real, and which are fake — and be introduced to tools you can use to tell the difference. Presenters will discuss contextual analysis, critical thinking habits, and forensics analysis techniques; by equipping participants with these invaluable tools, this session aims to foster a more discerning and vigilant society in the face of the pervasive influence of generative AI and digital deception.

Note: The GenAI tool ChatGPT helped write this session description.

Presenter: Donald Clark, professor of art/photography, Minnesota State University Moorhead

Location: Bishop Whipple 244

Clark will explain and discuss his project titled “The Nature Writers Project.” In this project, he has spent the past four years photographing the places where nature writers live and has been inspired to write. To date, he has photographed 33 writer’s places around the United States. After his talk, he will open the floor to questions regarding the project. The project can be viewed at DonaldSClarkPhoto.com.

1:15-2 p.m.

Presenter: Christian Mortenson, associate professor of photography, Concordia

Location: Olin 124

The photograph has often been associated with truth because the image we hold or look at on the screen looks like what we were standing in front of when the shutter opened. In our current age, the use of Photoshop and the emergence of AI has made us start questioning the images we see, although the idea of an “untruthful” image still angers us. This talk will consider how the photograph has been lying to us since its “discovery” in 1839 and how images are used to influence our choices and help define our culture.

Presenter: John Wheeler, meteorologist, WDAY-TV

Location: Old Main 332

Television news coverage of weather, and weather forecasting in general, has come to rely on everyday people's camera phone images of weather. This is because, literally, "a picture is worth a thousand words." It's how we see and how we report exactly what is happening. Wheeler will show how to get your weather pictures on TV.

Presenter: Dr. Gregory Tanner, assistant professor of mathematics and computer science; Dr. Julia Walk, associate professor of mathematics

Location: Old Main 302

What makes a good data visualization? How can we make sense of the graphics we consume in news and social media? How can we turn spaghetti charts into effective communication tools? Come join us as we learn how to choose effective visuals, remove clutter, create a visual hierarchy, and responsibly leverage data to tell a story.

Presenter: Kary Janosek, local photographer

Location: Olin 122

Janosek will briefly explain the history of the wet plate collodion process, why it was so important, and how it impacted society and individuals. She’ll also answer questions from those interested in learning the basics of the process. She’ll show how using this past form of analog photography can help us think outside of the box while interpreting the modern world, and how documenting local people in this unique way in our fast-paced and digitally enhanced era can hold special meaning for individuals in Fargo-Moorhead communities. This session includes a demonstration of the historic wet plate collodion process creating tintypes and/or ambrotypes.

Presenter: Chris Flynn, video journalist, Forum Communications

Location: Bishop Whipple 249 

From long-form videos to user-generated content, there are several ways video is used in a newspaper. This will be a conversation about those possibilities. What role does video have in news gathering? How can practices be improved, yet allow room to grow by trying new things? What are the expectations, standards? What is the role editors play in what is valued? What is the experience we want the audience to have? What are we trying to achieve? And, what do we like about videos?


Presenter: Lowell Wolff, local photographer

Location: Jones C/D, Knutson Campus Center

Living in the Colonia of Las Brisas (the breezes), Manzanillo, Colima, Mexico, for portions of 15 years, has generated many images and observations about the area. Being Mexico’s largest container port on the West Coast, it has a strong middle class not dependent on tourism. Wolff’s Mexican immigration status changed from tourist visa to becoming a permanent resident of Mexico. During those 15 years, much changed.

In the beginning, Colima was arguably one of the safest states in Mexico. They thought nothing of visiting small villages and rural areas in the nearby mountains. With the extradition of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán to the United States, things changed. Cartels from Michoicán to the South and Jalisco New Generation Cartel to the North began fighting for control of the area. Colima is now consistently classified by the U.S. State Department as a “Do not travel” destination.

Images and discussion topics can include culture, energy sustainability, government, religion, socio-economic divisions, and Indigenous people of Mexico.

Presenter: C.S. Hagen, journalist, Forum Communications

Location: Jones A/B, Knutson Campus Center

Every occupation has its heroes, and journalism is no exception. In fact, journalists and photographers like Robert Capa, Carl Bernstein, and Daphne Caruana Galizia are renowned because they put their missions first and dared to expose and document violence and corruption. In covering volatile scenarios like a riot or protests, inspiration and lessons can be found with such journalistic heroes to cover all angles of a controversy while staying mentally and physically prepared for whatever comes a journalist's way — one spoiler: bring a camera.