“It’s really cool,” said Odell, a 19-year-old graduate of Platte County High School, “especially because during, while she was taking the pictures, I never got to see them, so seeing her work now is truly amazing. It gives me the happiness seeing that I actually did it.”
Odell ended up as one of the subjects for the 66th annual Missouri Photo Workshop.
Last week, 43 photographers from all across the United States and 13 foreign countries descended on Platte City for a week of work with some of the leading photojournalists, editors and educators in the field who annually set about teaching the participants how to research, shoot and edit photo stories while emphasizing ethical practices. Stories were individually researched and pitched for approval.
Final results were put on display for four hours on Sept. 27 at Platte City Middle School, and hundreds showed up to view the unique work.
“MPW 66 created a positive international venue for the city, its citizens and the business community,” Platte City mayor Frank Offutt said in an email to those directly involved in the planning and execution of the event.
Sara Lewkowicz spent some of her time in the MPW 66 with Odell, who recently chose to join the U.S. Marines. Other stories included local farmers, business owners and unique individuals with lesser-known stories, even to the citizens of Platte City.
Many of the subjects showed up at the exhibit to view the work, some which hadn’t been previously seen after spending days with the photographer.
Tessie Lambader, great-grandmother of 12-year-old Grace Cogan, found herself overcome with emotions while viewing the work of Bernice Wong, who stood nearby. Wong spent a few days with Cogan, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder which has led to multiple disabilities, and met Lambader for the first time at the public viewing.
“To meet GaGa — that’s what she calls her — to meet GaGa in person to see how she’s so moved by the story of Grace, I feel very touched as well,” Wong said. “I’ve never met a kid like (Grace). She is very, very intelligent. She has a passion for reading.
“I really admire her fighting spirit.”
Most exhibits featured between five and 10 pictures and didn’t include any captions. Only a title for each project and the photographer were listed on the tables set up in the school’s main hallway with many of the visual authors easily identified nearby their work.
For those with a close connection to the subjects, the reactions were obvious and meaningful — a testament to the impact of the prestigious workshop choosing Platte City for this year’s backdrop.
“This whole display, everything they’ve done, is the best thing that could’ve happened to Platte City. We need more of this in Platte City,” Lambader said.