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A recruiting success
City will host Missouri Photo Workshop

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

Platte City is celebrating a recruiting success.

Mayor Frank Offutt received word this week that Platte City has been chosen as the host city for the 66th Missouri Photo Workshop (MPW 66).

The workshop will feature 40 photographers from around the world encamping themselves in Platte City and surrounding area for a week in September. While here, the photographers will seek out stories of the area to be told through photographs. The photographs will spend the week documenting life in Platte City and the city’s outskirts, culminating in a large photo exhibit open to the public at the end of the week.

The workshop will take place Sept. 21-27. It will be headquartered in the gym at the Platte City Civic Center, a venue the organizers “fell in love with” on a visit to the city last week, the mayor said.

Organizers were attracted to the civic center due to its closeness to the downtown, the history of the building itself, the open space in the gym and the city’s ability to get needed electrical/wifi connections for the photographers technology devices that will be needed.

“We think the old high school (civic center) will be a terrific venue for us,” said Jim Curley, co-director of the Missouri Photo Workshop said in telling the mayor the news of the city’s selection.

“Photographers from all over the world will try to visually take the pulse of the community and tell the story of Platte City and county,” Curley said.

The headquarters will be a site in use from 8 a.m. to midnight or beyond each day, with needed space for 75 people, with space for a digital darkroom and imaging center.

The news of Platte City’s selection as the host comes after a recruiting effort--led by the mayor after the idea was pitched to him by The Landmark’s photojournalist Bill Hankins--that has taken place behind the scenes over the past several weeks.

Hankins, who has photographed for The Landmark since 1999 and prior to that was a journalism instructor at Oak Park High School, has been a participant in a previous workshop. Hankins, a member of the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame, knew this year’s event was looking for a host city, and reached out to Offutt to encourage the city to make a push to become the host.

From there, the mayor took the ball and ran with it.

Local motels and restaurants should feel a bit of a boost from the presence of the workshop. The 75 people will be filling 35-45 hotel rooms. Coupon books with local dining deals are expected to be available to the participants.

The mayor is planning a welcoming picnic/cookout/dinner for the group on Sunday, Sept. 21.

“This will serve as a kickoff and introduction of the workshop to the community,” Offutt said in a recent meeting of a task force he put together to help lure the event to Platte City.

“Plenty of town folks should be there to meet the photographers, who will be picking the brains of the local residents for story ideas and background on the community,” the mayor said.

On Saturday, Sept. 27, 400 photographic prints of the photographers’ week worth of work will be displayed in an exhibit setting. The public will be invited to come view the exhibits.

Members of the Task Force 66 organized by the mayor to help in the bid to attract the workshop to Platte City are Jen Snider of Witt, Hicklin and Snider, chairman; Bill Hankins of The Landmark, advisor; Craig Hedrick, Platte Valley Bank; Chris Miller, Platte County R-3; Ivan Foley, The Landmark; Lee Stubbs, Citizen; Angie Mutti, Platte City Chamber of Commerce; Vic Perrin, Platte County YMCA-North; D.J. Gehrt, city administrator; and Amy Edwards, city clerk.

According to its website, the Missouri Photo Workshop “has been documenting small town America for over six decades.”

It is based on the philosophy of its founder, Cliff Edom, known as the father of photojournalism.

According to the Missouri Photo Workshop website:

“When the late Clifton C. Edom of the Missouri School of Journalism founded the Missouri Photo Workshop in 1949, he too, looked to the past to map the path for photojournalism's future. Inspired by the gritty, content-rich photographs of the documentary photo unit of the pre-WWII Farm Security Administration, Edom promoted research, observation, and timing as the methods to make strong story-telling photographs. FSA director Roy Stryker and photographer Russell Lee worked closely with Edom in the creation of the workshop and served as faculty members during its early years.

“In subsequent years, faculty members have been many of America's leading newspaper and magazine photographers and photo editors; a roster of faculty and students reads like a Who's Who of photojournalism. Faculty of today includes some of the most energetic, productive, and articulate documentarians currently working. All are experts dedicated to passing on the fundamentals of photo research, shooting, and editing to those who hope to carry on these values and techniques in the future.”

The workshop still follows Cliff Edom's credo: "Show truth with a camera. Ideally truth is a matter of personal integrity. In no circumstances will a posed or faked photograph be tolerated."