"It's all compelling information, but will you be able to make that point in an image?"
Melissa Farlow / MPW.60
It was a bounty of natural resources that brought Thomas James to Maramec Spring in 1826, just six miles from what would later become the city of St. James. He was the first to realize that the rich caldera of iron ore nearby was possible to mine and refine because the spring poured an enormous amount of water, 96 million gallons per day, into the headwaters of the Meramec River. The spring provided power and energy. Power to turn grist mills to grind grain and feed a population that would mine and smelt the iron ore; energy to turn wheels in the forge to power hammers and provide air for blowers to stoke the furnace fires.
Now, nearly two centuries later, it is the opportunity to mine photographic images that brought 40 photographers, 11 eminent faculty and a crew of 17 University of Missouri students to St. James during the last week of September 2008. They came from all corners of America, and from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Romania, Singapore and the United Kingdom to be part of the 60th annual Missouri Photo Workshop. They came to hone their story-telling skills while adding images to an archive that has documented small town life, in over 40 Missouri communities, for six decades.
Their photographs show viewers how a big national chain store distribution center helps power this small town. They document the last grape harvest of a family vineyard, and what it’s like to grow up in a small town. They show us a pair of elderly sisters who have reunited to share their last years, and a newly married couple just beginning their life together.
An exhibit of nearly 400 photographs at the St. James Middle School was an opportunity for these 40 photographers to share their vision of St. James and for neighbors to learn a little more about each other.
The people of St. James welcomed workshop photographers into their homes and their hearts. They’ve shared their stories and their lives with participants during this week. It is a gift for which we will be forever grateful.
Photographs from the previous workshops are available available online through the Year-by-Year page.