Missouri Photo Workshop Publishes ‘Troy,’ the Latest Book in Series of Small-Town Portraits

Timmy Huynh, MA ’13, Edited the Book as Part of His Master’s Project

By Rebecca Dell

Columbia, Mo. (Oct. 9, 2013) — Forty photographers inundated Troy, Mo., last September, coming from nine different countries with the goal of documenting life in one Missouri town. Together with the people of Troy, they captured a portrait of a town defined by both large industry and small business and filled with resilient people. Their work is now available in the book “Troy: Stories of Growth in Missouri’s Cuivre River Valley” and represents the 64th year of the Missouri Photo Workshop.

“The workshop is such an immersive experience for the photographers, who come to the community to learn to be better visual storytellers,” said Professor David Rees, who co-directs with Jim Curley the Missouri Photo Workshop. “The photographers settle on a story that represents something significant that’s happening in the community and presents a challenge to them professionally.”

Timmy Huynh, MA ’13, edited the book as part of his master’s project. Huynh joined the Wall Street Journal as evening photo editor upon graduation in May.

For the research component of his project Huynh conducted a photo elicitation with members of the community to see how they thought the workshop portrayed their town and how that portrayal compared to their own views on the town. Both Rees and Curley served on Hyunh’s master’s committee.

Huynh went through the original takes from all 40 of the photographers, a total of 16,802 images. During the spring semester of 2013 he edited that group of images down to a final cohesive selection of 225 images.

“It was an amazing learning experience, and I learned quite a bit,” Huynh said. “I was able to increase my visual vocabulary and also gained confidence in my abilities as a picture editor.”

Troy: Stories of Growth in Missouri's Cuivre River Valley
Troy: Stories of Growth in Missouri’s Cuivre River Valley

“Troy” is the fifth book to be published from the Missouri Photo Workshop. Previous ones in this series document St. James, Festus/Crystal City, Macon and Clinton.

“It’s a way the university reaches out to and returns some of the insights and understanding to the people of the state,” Rees said.

The book highlights the history of the town and the current lives of Troy’s residents. There’s Katie Ladlie who was born with a malformation in her left leg that would ultimately destroy the cartilage in her knee. There’s the 400 children between sixth and twelfth grades who participate in Troy’s middle and high school music programs. There’s Aiden Atterberry, who loves sports and plays youth league football while dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome and bipolar disorder. There’s Donald and Cheryl Webb, who share their two-bedroom mobile home with nine family members who need a place to stay.

Photographers hailed from the University of Missouri community, as well as from around the country and the world. Rees said both the town and the photographers benefit from the project. At the end of the week the photographers exhibit about 400 prints of their work for the community to see.

“It feels like we’re holding up a mirror to the community, a mirror that gives people a chance to look at their collective values and progress and gain understanding and respect for their neighbors,” Rees said.

Copies of “Troy” can be purchased on the Missouri Photo Workshop website or by contacting Amy Schomaker in the photojournalism office, 573-882-4882. Special pricing is available for students.

The MPW, which was founded in 1949 by journalism professor Clifton Edom, has recorded rural life for more than six decades. Over the years, more than 2,000 photographers have documented 44 Missouri communities. The towns are a laboratory for photographers to hone their visual storytelling skills under the guidance of a demanding faculty, some of the nation’s top picture editors and photographers. It is a rigorous week for the photographers, who are expected to follow Edom’s prescription of making meaningful pictures: intensive research, followed by intent observation and judicious timing.

Updated: July 20, 2020

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