Laurent Roch | Here and Elsewhere

Each year, according to a Convention Industry Council study, a staggering 1.8 million conventions, conferences, and trade shows are held in the United States. These gatherings directly support 1.7 million jobs, $263 billion in spending, and $14.3 billion in federal tax revenue. As a photographer, I find that conventions — the more unusual and photogenic the better — provide an abundance of visual treasures. They’re unique expressions of community culture, and connection.

This project has shown me that regardless of what they're about, where they're held, or who attends them, all conventions satisfy a basic human urge: a longing to belong. People come together to share similar interests (and sometimes obsessions), to bond, and to express themselves freely without judgment from the outside world. In fact, during most conventions, the outside world doesn't even exist. The conventioneers have each other and that’s all they need. An attendee I met at the taxidermist convention expressed it best. “This isn't a convention,” he said. “It's a family reunion.”

Arthur Drooker

Arthur Drooker's photography is informed by an understanding and appreciation of cultures past and present.
     He is the author and photographer of American Ruins (Merrell, 2007), Lost Worlds: Ruins of the Americas, (ACC, 2011), and Pie Town Revisited (UNM Press, 2015). His work has been the subject of a feature story on CBS Sunday Morning and has been exhibited at the Virginia Center for Architecture and the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington, D.C. In Conventional Wisdom, due in Fall 2016, Drooker explores quirky conventions as expressions of culture, community, and connection.