Team Teaching – In praise of Cliff Edom

Cliff Edom with his wife Vi. © Rich Clarkson / Rich Clarkson & Assoc.
My early years in photojournalism in Kansas were fortunate for it was close to Missouri — and in my opinion, the leading teacher of photojournalism in the country. Cliff Edom. And he invented the word photojournalism.

I never attended the University of Missouri, but Cliff began the Missouri Workshops as an adjunct to his teaching in those years. And for some reason, he invited me as one of the instructors when I was in very early career at the Topeka Capital-Journal. He became a great friend and inadvertent mentor, for he was one of the most important leaders in the emergence of serious photojournalism in this country.

But the Missouri Workshops were the cornerstone of his teaching, for they brought together some ten of the top photojournalists and picture editors and major magazine editors in the country for a week of intense boot strap teaching for some 50 “students:” who had to produce a picture story in some new small Missouri town every year. The faculty members were Cliff’s assemblage of people he thought had something to offer and they ranged from the editor-in-chief of the National Geographic to the fledgling director of photography of the Topeka Capital-Journal (that was me) and a variety of LIFE magazine photographers and winners in Pictures of the Year. (He also founded the contest!)

It was there I experienced the value of team-teaching which features a variety of tastes, specialties and job descriptions that brought together one of the most effective teaching experiences possible.

Which these days at our workshops, is exactly the philosophy. Team-teaching with instructors with a variety of backgrounds and experiences. It is key in why our workshops are unique. And as everyone who attends tells us, separates our workshops from all others.

Thanks to Cliff Edom.

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