A hearty congratulations to Platte County native son Keith Myers, recently inducted into the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame. It’s a major honor conferred at the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the University of Missouri at Columbia. His photos will become part of a collection at the Hall of Fame.
Yet this isn’t about someone who went away and became noted in their field. Rather, it’s about someone who stayed close to his home roots and kept giving back to his community, while he built an impressive career noted far beyond the county lines.
There are a lot of reasons to pat Myers on the back when you see him. He’s one of The Kansas City Star’s best photographers and it’s long been so.
And long, long ago he shot a few photos for The Platte County Citizen’s founders, too.
Myers has shot photos all over America, at important national political conventions during presidential election years, heart rendering photos of people in very difficult life situations, and the whimsy of people in interesting motion in everyday life.
As an outdoor photographer, I’m envious of some bald eagle photos he’s shot, capturing the birds flying with fish in their talons. Some of the best he shot in Parkville, Mo. near English Landing Park a few years back. I was with him when he photographed the first documented nesting pair of trumpeter swans in Missouri in decades in north central Missouri.
We worked together at The Star, and full disclosure, he’s a friend.
Among the things I’ve enjoyed most about Myers is his appreciation for Platte County, the people and the history. Many photos from the county’s towns and countryside have appeared in The Star over the years.
Some of those are perhaps due to photo beat assignment, his bosses wanting him to be on the lookout in his home county for photographs that editors call wild art. He lives at Weatherby Lake. However, many photos have appeared in print simply because Myers recognized them as significant, because he cares a lot about the people and the community.
And this caring extends to all types of folks with all manner of day jobs, hobbies, politics.
Myers cares about people who are significant to others, regardless of his private personal stand on this or that issue. It’s as if a fascination was struck during his boyhood in Platte City and journeys around the countryside, an interest in the people and the buildings and the history that leads to happenings in the present that will soon be history, a fascination that never wore off.
Myers appreciates people who work hard, who help others, who do the things to bind a community together. As a journalist he’ll also fearlessly photograph and document those who would tear a community apart.
Myers graduated from Platte County R-3 High School in 1971. His photojournalism career began rolling full force in the early 1980s. He’s donated decades of support and photos to the Platte County Fair. It’s a family tradition. His brother, Dr. Carl Myers, also is a tireless fair supporter, as was their father before them.
Somewhere Myers likely has a stash of the many journalism awards he’s received over the years. He could have gone somewhere else and shot pictures for a living.
Many journalists I worked with at The Star in the 1980s and 1990s viewed Kansas City as a Midwestern backwater, a place they were forced to earn stripes at before they could go to where the real action was, in California, the East Coast or Washington D.C. But Myers stayed, shooting pictures throughout Kansas City and the Midwest, yet always he kept a keen eye on Platte County.
Sometimes special things don’t happen unless someone dedicated provides time and effort.
Myers for several years has been compiling a collection of Platte County historical photographs. Some he took, others were taken by others, perhaps culled from family albums. He’s saved photos of floods, buildings long gone, historical places such as the Red Crown that was shot up in the Bonnie and Clyde shootout. But he also has a great eye for people captured in time and place.
Many of these photographs are exhibited at the Fair each summer, catch them if you can. Archives such as those are appreciated now, and they only get more valuable in time.
Some people make a big difference for the better during their lifetime in a community. Myers is one of them.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area, may be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.