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Academy Graduate Attends World-Famous Missouri Photo Workshop

It’s one of the most prestigious, competitive photo workshops in the world, but Academy of Art University School of Photography graduate Sean Posey was up to the challenge. Accepted to the 60th Annual Missouri Photography Workshop (MPW) in St. James, Missouri, Sean immersed himself in the small town community, leaving the workshop with a captivating photographic story of an unusual town meeting place and its inhabitants.

Fast-paced and largely independent, MPW gives participants only one week to scout an unknown town for an intriguing story and document it through photography. The workshop was founded by Clifton Cedric Edom, known as the father of modern photojournalism, and boasts some of the biggest names in photojournalism as participants. 

Sean relates the experience as uncomfortable at first, “it takes you out of your comfort zone,” but ultimately worth it, “you’re pushed to do things that you would otherwise be incapable of doing.” Getting through the grueling MPW schedule with a poignant photo-story that captures the warmth and kinship found at a local tire shop showed Sean that he could work harder than he ever had, harder than he ever thought he could.

The photographer found Ray’s Tire Shop early in the week. A central meeting place for the entire community, the tire shop hosts a cast of townspeople coming in to gossip or simply sit, customers and loiterers alike.

“Ray’s shop was kind of like what barber shops have been to small towns in the past,” said Sean. “It’s not something you could find in a city like San Francisco.”

Though an observer, Sean was accepted kindly by the group. “By the end of the week, I knew everyone. We would talk and have coffee and doughnuts. As a documentary photographer, you’re not involved their lives, but in a way you are because you’re there. It opened my eyes to how other people live.”

Sean is no stranger to this type of experience. As a resident assistant at Academy of Art University, he reveled in new experiences and people. “I don’t think my experience at the Academy would have been as great if I had not lived in campus housing.”

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