Platte City prepares for arrival of prestigious photo workshop

A long-running prestigious photography event makes its way to Platte City, starting next week. The 66th annual Missouri Photo Workshop (MPW) will bring 43 photographers from throughout the United States and 13 foreign countries for seven days, starting with a welcome dinner Sept. 21 outside of Platte City Middle School. MPW focuses on teaching the fundamentals of researching, shooting and editing photo stories while emphasizing ethical practices.

The faculty — past and present — includes some of the leading photojournalists, editors and educators in the field.

“Spending time learning storytelling in the environment of the Missouri Photo Workshop was one of the defining experiences of my life,” Victor Blue, an alumnus of MPW 57 in 2005, said in a letter of support for one of this year’s applicants.

The attendees have diverse backgrounds.

Peter Mather, traveling from Whitehorse in Canada’s Yukon Territory for MPW 66, already has had work featured in Canadian Geographic and National Geographic but hopes this experience can help with a current project. He has been studying the Gwich’in aboriginal people and their culture in northern Canada and Alaska.

Mather already heard about the workshop’s benefits from friends and colleagues.

“And they all say the same thing: ‘Hardest thing I’ve ever done,’ and, ‘You’ve got to do it. You will be so challenged and you’ll learn so much,’” Mather said.

Born and raised in Italy, Federica Armstrong worked in a variety of other countries before settling in northern California. She describes herself as a documentary photographer focused on issues of social equality, the environment and sustainability.

“I use my photography to document untold stories,” Armstrong said. “In my experience, much of the work we do as photographers has little to do with our cameras but in how we approach our subjects and how capable we are in connecting with individuals to bring out the essence of a story.”

Benjamin Petit, who earned his master’s degree in photography and imagery engineering in 2010 from the Ecole Nationale Superieure Louis-Lumiere in Paris, makes his way to Platte City knowing how important constructive criticism can be in developing a personal vision and refining photographic style.

“I wish to participate in the Missouri Photo Workshop in order to take my practice to a new level,” Petit said.

The workshop concludes with an exhibit of about 400 photographs made during the week. The exhibit is open to the public and will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 27 in the main hallway of Platte City Middle School.

“The Missouri Photo Workshop is an international event that attracts the best young and mid-career photojournalists all competing to hone their skills,” Platte City mayor Frank Offutt said. “Each of the 43 attendees for the 66th annual workshop will be focused on Platte City seeking to showcase our community and documenting the character of our citizens. Platte City is honored to have been selected for this year’s event and we welcome the workshop to explore the people who make our city special.”

Since many of the participants will be traveling great distances at great expense, workshop organizers hope a few Platte City residents might be willing to consider housing one of them and/or loaning a bicycle for the week. Those wishing to help can call or email co-director Jim Curley at (573) 673-5134 or or David Rees at (573) 289-3783 or