Previewing The 2012 Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference

Every year peoples’ lives are changed utterly by the Book Passage Travel Writers & Photographers Conference. I know because they tell me. Every year I get a dozen emails from people who say their careers have taken off, or they’ve been inspired to travel around the world, or they’ve gotten a photo or a story published, or they’ve landed a magazine assignment or a book contract because of something they learned, someone they met, some connection they made, at Book Passage.

As co-founder and chairman of the conference, I leap – well, my heart leaps – when I get these emails. Because that’s why Book Passage owner Elaine Petrocelli and I founded this conference 21 summers ago: to share our passion for great travel writing and photography, to inspire people by presenting the very best practitioners of these crafts, and to change peoples’ lives.

It’s astonishing to me that the conference is once again right around the corner: This year the dates are Aug. 9-12. The location is the same as always, Book Passage bookstore in Corte Madera, CA, about 15 minutes north of San Francisco. And there are still spaces open for participants.

Who will be there this year? I’m tremendously excited that the great Susan Orlean will be gracing the conference, along with award-winning actor-turned-travel-writer Andrew McCarthy, bestselling Wall Street Journal veteran Julia Flynn Siler, and travel icon Pauline Frommer. Among the stellar faculty will be photographers Robert Holmes and Andrea Johnson, writers David Farley, Pam Mandel and Chris Gray Faust, and editors Julia Cosgrove of Afar, Loren Mooney of Sunset, Jim Benning of WorldHum, Spud Hilton of the San Francisco Chronicle, David Lytle of, Robert Reid of Lonely Planet, and Larry Habegger of Travelers Tales – and rumor has it that Gadling editor in chief Grant Martin is flying in for a special appearance as well. You can find a full list of the faculty here.

What’s the conference like? It’s a four-day fest of morning workshops, afternoon panels, and evening readings and on-stage conversations, of passion and expertise leavened with a big helping of laidback camaraderie (and spiced with a dash of karaoke), where just about everyone mingles easily and learning happens in myriad planned and unplanned ways. For me, it’s like summer camp for travel writers and photographers. But to give you a better idea, I’ll just direct you to Lavinia Spalding’s wonderful write-up after last year’s conference. To my mind, she captures the spirit of this singular, soaring celebration that has truly become one of the highlights of my year.

If you have any questions about the conference, I’d be very happy to answer them. And if you love travel writing and photography, I hope to see you there!

To get more information and to register for the conference, click here.

[Flickr image via Stephanie O]