September 30 2015 The Mirror
"These people see the world through a different lens." A woman was overheard saying as she left the photo show. She'd seen 425 color enlargements made last week, stories of people in Perryville, Mo.
When 41 photographers come to town things happen to photographers and the town's people. Photographers discover openness and learn documentary photography. People learn it's OK to have a photo made without looking at the camera to say "Cheese."
A young man from Brooklyn pondered the open welcome. An old man from Columbia, likewise. Locals accept us with open doors, strangers in their midst.
The annual event ran the 67th time in the 47th town visited. MPW sometimes returns to a town. As towns grow, adding motels, the workshop visits new towns.
The Missouri Photo Workshop stands as the oldest continuous workshop extending ideas from the University of Missouri. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
The reach isn't just to rural Missouri as the impact spreads worldwide. This years photographers came from seven counties, showing our global reach.
Even rural Missouri towns have that outreach. This month Missouri opened a trade office in Cuba, a market ready for our farm products and more.
One of our faculty, a photojournalist from the Washington Post, showed her work from Cuba. I was astounded by the vibrant culture. Also, I glimpsed the world's largest collection of working antique cars. An opening shot reminded me that I once knew Studebakers.
I'd promoted Perryville as a photo subject for a while. It's in a strong agricultural county., Early, manufacturing plants came to town, adding jobs. A 7,000 foot runway was built next to a plant that for a long time held large contracts for defense.
The mayor said U.S. fighter jets came to the airport near the plant which makes parts for planes. People working in the plants like rural life.
The workshop directors know two things make a great workshop: Support of the mayor and local businesses, plus a vibrant local newpaper. Perryville has these.
At the opening picnic, hosted by locals, Mayor Ken Baer did the homework for visiting photographers. He spelled out the attributes of his town. It thrives, cares, and shares, he said.
He gave the broad qualitites; then he told specific examples of those traits.
Local culture still shows influence of early German settlers along the Mississippi River south of St. Louis.
Long ago, in the early '60s, MPW documented nearby Cape Girardeau. That's where I attended as a neophyte workshop photographer. I would never have guessed from that start, I would later be co-director of the workshop. Bill Kuykendall, thenhead of MU photojournalism, and I, MU Extension photojournalist, headed the workshop for 14 years. Now MPW is led, or herded by, David Rees, MU photojournalism professor, and Jim Curley, former MU Extension photojournalist.
To my pleasure, they invited me back to write for a daily newsletter run by journalism students led by Randy Cox, former Missouri boy now from Oregon. He teaches editing and design.
Prof. Cliff Edom started the workshop to teach career photographers and also help MU students learn from professionals. Now we call it networking. Students don't earn college credit for working thousands of photographs for evening slide shows. And, they make the end-of-week photo exhibit. They gain a semester of learning in one week.
I continue to learn as documentary photography changes. Edom's motto holds: "Show the truth with a camera."
I think I've spent 35 years of my life in annual workshops. First, I was a student then a teacher before the promotion. Retired, I observe and comment.
Being co-director is more than an honor. Sure enough, Rees was late for a faculty meeting. He was plunging a clogged toilet in the American Legion Quonset Hut, our classroom for the week.
The mayor said when leaving the exhibit: "This shows we care."
Duane Dailey is my husbands uncle, oldest son of Howard & Marie Dailey.