Through The Lens Of Rich Clarkson
THE VETERAN OF 59 FINAL FOURS HAS CHRONICLED COLLEGE BASKETBALL FROM EVERY ANGLE, AND HIS PICTURES TELL THOUSANDS OF STORIES. HE SHARES THE IMAGES THAT MEAN THE MOST TO HIM (Read the full Sports Illustrated article by Lars Anderson)
(Chris Steppig - Rich Clarkson and Associates, LLC.) - March Madness this year will mark the 75th anniversary of the NCAA Men's Basketball Championships -- the Final Four. The individual who had attended -- and covered with cameras -- more Final Fours than anyone else is Rich Clarkson. Clarkson's work is chronicled in a story and 12 pages of pictures in the March 6 Sports Illustrated due on newsstands Thursday across the nation.
Clarkson photographed many of the tournaments for Sports Illustrated as one of their contributing photographers while at the same time, directing the photo departments at The Topeka Capital-Journal, The Denver Post and the National Geographic Society. Today, he heads a Denver-based group that provides photographic coverage, image management and book publishing for a number of clients including the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club.
Sports Illustrated writer Lars Anderson tells of Clarkson's first basketball championship while a freshman at the University of Kansas. His portrait of newly-arrived basketball star Wilt Chamberlain was his first published photograph in Sports Illustrated and led to the first of many assignments that spans 59 years. Clarkson will be courtside April 6-8 for this year's Final Four -- his 59th tournament.
Along the way, Clarkson became friends with many of the nation's baskertball coaches ranging from Dr. Forrest C. "Phog" Allen, the Kansas coach when he attended KU, to Bob Knight, John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith and Ted Owens.
He left a signficant leadership positition at the National Geographic to begin his new organization, based in Denver, to package a book and exhibition of the work of Brian Lanker. Shortly thereafter he started NCAA Photos as part of his company. The group now photographs not only the Final Four each year, but all of the 89 NCAA championships and provides an accessable database for member schools as well as all media. His group has packaged 29 books including two of pictures and stories from the Final Four. One of them, Brian Lanker's portraits of America's greatest black women ("I Dream A World") was for many years the best-selling trade coffee table book in American publishing history.
With 12 staff members in Denver and a cadre of contributing photographers across the nation, the company also creates and manages four high level workshops for photographers annually including the Sports Photography Workshop each summer at the USOC headquarters and a Colorado Springs hotel. With faculties of at least ten top photographers and editors at each workshop, they have become among the most respected learning opportunities for professional and advanced amateur photographers in the nation.