Friday, December 26, 2014

Photographer Rich Clarkson shot his first Final Four in 1952.

Photographer Rich Clarkson covers his 57th NCAA Championship game.

Photographer Rich Clarkson shot his first Final Four in 1952.

Legendary sports photographer Rich Clarkson will be courtside for his 57th NCAA Championship game tonight when Kentucky and Kansas face off. He was on CBS This Morning earlier today. Click here, or on the photo to see the clip.

Besides being a sports photographer (Sports Illustrated,Time and LIFE), Clarkson has been a Director of Photography (National Geographic, Denver Post and Topeka Capital-Journal); mentor (dozens of members of his staff and interns were - or became - Newspaper or Magazine Photographers of the Year and Pulitzer Prize winners); and leader (he served as a president of the National Press Photographers Association and is a founding officer of the NPPA Foundation).

When I first met Mr. Clarkson (still hard for me to call him Rich), I was a 24 year-old United Press International photographer just assignned to Kansas City. My "territory" was half of Missouri, part of Arkansas, and all of HIS state - Kansas. He was already one of the most famous photo directors in America, but when I called on him while meeting newspaper photographers around the Sunflower State, he took me out to lunch at Topeka's finest establishment and treated me like I was some visiting photo demi-god. Over the years whenever I'd run into him, he was always just as gracious. I'll be looking for him when I watch the game on TV tonight (he's usually near one of the corners).

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
About this blog

Tom Gralish is a general assignment photographer at The Inquirer, concentrating on local news and self-generated feature photos.

He has been at the paper since 1983, photographing everything from revolution in the Philippines to George W. Bush’s road to the White House to homeless people living on the street right outside his newspaper's front door. For his photo essay on Philadelphia’s homeless, he was awarded both the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award.

His weekly newspaper column, "Scene Through the Lens," takes a look at Philadelphia's urban landscape.

Gralish, along with Inquirer colleague and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael Vitez, spent a year visiting the Philadelphia Museum of Art to capture the stories and photos of "Rocky runners" who come from all over the world to climb the steps - just as Sylvester Stallone did in the Academy Award winning film, Rocky. Their book, Rocky Stories: Tales of Love, Hope and Happiness at America’s Most Famous Steps, was published in November 2006.

Reach Tom at tgralish@phillynews.com.

Tom Gralish Inquirer Staff Photographer
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected