Category: Rich Clarkson

From the 60th NCAA® Final Four®

April 6, 2015

Tonight is when March Madness comes to an end as either Wisconsin or Duke will end up on top in the final Championship game. And Rich Clarkson will be there at the corner of the sidelines one last time photographing just as he did the 59 times before at the Final Four. And although, his Final Four seat will be filled next year with another photojournalist his work still continues as he still runs Clarkson Creative. His contributions still find its way in large-scale projects including book publishing, exhibition projects, as well as supporting the creative staff beneath him. In addition, the staff is heavily involved in commercial photography, video production and photography education.

Take a look at some of the pictures below at his journey through the 2015 Indianapolis Final Four where we was honored by the Basketball Writers’ Association (USBWA) for a Lifetime Achievement Award as well as honored at the Final Four games this past Saturday.

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Clarkson continuously honored on Final Four lead-up

April 2, 2015

(Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

(Photo by Andy Cross/The Denver Post)

If you haven’t heard the story yet, you may be living underneath a rock. The buildup of March Madness will reach its apex this weekend as the Final Four teams compete for the NCAA Championship title that will be played on Monday. And the man who will be sitting on the floorboards, just as he has for 59 other Final Fours, will be photographing the game for his final team.

You heard it right! Rich Clarkson has photographed more NCAA Final Fours than anyone in history as he will leave his mark at an impressive 60 years. Over the years, he has grown the coverage that formed from Sports Illustrated into his own company, Clarkson Creative. Clarkson Creative does business as NCAA Photos and has been covering all of the collegiate championships since Fall of 1994.

To give you more insight into his story, I will leave that to the professionals. The stories below are written by those that are inspired by his story of photojournalism and the legacy he has left for the entire industry that we have today. Once you meet the legendary Rich Clarkson, he can’t help but share with you some amazing stories from all his years in the biz — these following stories captured just a few…

His work will continue outside of the NCAA Final Four with his founding company, Clarkson Creative, that run and manage clients with a variety of inventive work.

NCAA Feature: Photo Finish

March 11, 2015

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Rich Clarkson buries his hands in one of those boxes, sifting through the hundreds of photographs inside, searching for memories. He could reach into any one of these boxes and pull out a spellbinding shot: politicians, auto accidents, carnage from a tornado.
He draws out a photo of Stan Musial, close to retirement, hunched over and alone on the St. Louis Cardinals bench.

Next, he draws out a sequence of photos from the 1972 Munich Olympics: A Russian basketball player holding his arms up triumphantly, followed by three American players. One looks like his stomach is trying to wring out its contents. Another is angry. The last looks to be in deep shock. The U.S. had just lost the Olympic gold-medal game, in controversial style, to the Russians.

They’re the types of images for which Clarkson is best remembered – moments that reflect a deeper humanity that influenced the way people look at sports. Clarkson focused not just on the action, but also on the defining moments that came before the big games and after the big shots. He developed a signature low-angle style shot from a camera placed just off the baseline and pioneered the mounting of cameras behind backboards and above locker rooms to capture unique perspectives.

College sports was his preferred canvas for capturing those innovative illustrations of significant moments. It took him to dozens of Final Fours, where he captured some of the most memorable and reproduced images from the tournament: University of Kansas basketball coach Phog Allen giving his Jayhawks a pep talk at halftime; UCLA center Lew Alcindor pulling down a rebound over the University of Houston’s Elvin Hayes; North Carolina State University coach Jim Valvano, dazed from a historic upset of Houston, being hoisted onto the shoulders of his players and fans.

Read more of the visually stunning article at NCAA Champion Magazine.

100 Best Super Bowl Photos

January 24, 2014

Congratulations to Rich Clarkson who made the list of Sports Illustrated’s 100 Best Super Bowl Photos.  This photograph from Super Bowl X captures an animated Tom Landry as his Cowboys lost to the Steelers 21-17.  See the full list here.

Super Bowl X


Clarkson profiled for Final Four

April 18, 2013

Local Denver media, 9news, profiles Rich Clarkson and his run of the Final Fours. He shares some of the most epic Final Four moments and more below. Take a look.

How Clarkson got his start

March 25, 2013

As the 75th Final Four approaches and everyone’s brackets start to wither and die, we will see who will make it to The Big Dance in Atlanta this year.

Clarkson will be photographing his 59th Final Four this year and all because of a start he made back in 1950’s with Wilt Chamberlain.

Take a look below to hear how he got his first published photograph in Sports Illustrated.

History of the Final Four: White vs. Black

March 18, 2013

As the 75th anniversary of the NCAA Final Four approaches, we take a look back into history through the eyes of long-time Final Four photographer, Rich Clarkson.

A turning point for the evolution of the sport of basketball was the Civil Rights Movement. Clarkson documented an All-White team losing to an All-Black starting lineup for the first time — the story was later told through the motion picture ‘Glory Road’.

Watch the video below to hear his story:

March Madness game changed history

March 15, 2013

It’s called the “Game of Change” and for good reason.

The 1963 game with Mississippi State vs. Loyola Chicago is one of the most memorable sporting events in the civil rights movement. It served as a vehicle to challenge racial segregation in athletics helping to forever change college basketball and advance civil rights in this country.

Mississippi State’s team had to overcome unwritten laws that prohibited them from playing integrated teams. The team snuck out of town in darkness before the Governor could order them to not leave.

The Loyola Chicago team, which featured four African-American starters, eventually went on the win the National Championship.

Rich Clarkson was there to document and photograph it all — his pictures are showcased in the video along with some players from that game.

Check it out here on Yahoo Sports!

Clarkson Final Four

March 8, 2013

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 our boss Rich Clarkson.
Rich’s work is chronicled in a story and 12 pages of pictures in Sports Illustrated which is on newsstands now.
Sports Illustrated writer Lars Anderson tells of Rich’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.
Rich will be courtside April 6-8 for this year’s Final Four — his 59th tournament.
Along the way, Rich has  become friends with many of the nation’s basketball 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.
Another accomplishment on a list that never seems to end.  Below is a link to the SI article, it is worth getting out and buying a copy!  
We are all very proud to have been a part of a handful of them!

When I met Stan Musial

January 21, 2013

When Stan Musial began his final tour of the league, writer Ted O’Leary and myself accompanied him for a Sports Illustrated story. And that was when I began to understand the great respect and affection he held throughout major league baseball.

For in every city before his final game there, there were recognitions, gifts and celebrations. Many of them were giving him rocking chairs. Stan graciously accepted the accolades as his career in baseball wound down. But I think he missed as much as anything, having dinner at his favorite restaurant in each league city — for Stan savored good food almost before anything else. We accompanied him to several of his favorite haunts, but they should probably not be called haunts — for at each, the maitre’d greeted him with great aplomb as they were all five-star restaurants. He was greeted as a patron, not a baseball superstar. Stan could have written restaurant reviews for Gourmet magazine, but preferred to just eat.

Shortly after his retirement from baseball, Lyndon Johnson appointed him Director of the President’s Council on physical fitness and sport succeeding Bud Wilkinson. Stan was more of a figure head, but the job entailed traveling to various cities for public appearances, which meant dinners. Stan probably enjoyed finding new restaurants at cities not on the National League circuit as much as any part of the job, and it was during this time, V. L. Nishonlson working for the Council, commisioned me to make photographs at an event at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. When we all got to the hotel, the reservations were confused and everyone was doubling up. Thus, my roommate was Stan Musial. We checked in, sat down on the beds, each trying to think of something to begin a conversation. I didn’t know that much about baseball and he didn’t know that much about anything else. Until I suggested it was time to think about dinner.

After retirement from baseball, Stan and his friend Biggie started a restaurant in his beloved St. Louis which was always the place to go. And for many years, Stan was there to visit with patrons and have dinner.

That time at Colorado Springs, talk of dinner triggered the converstion and a long evening in which we were joined by others in the Council group. (The restaurant didn’t make Stan’s A-list but it was a great time.) In the course of those years photographing him, one of my pictures — an informal portrait sitting on the bench during batting practIce — became perhaps Stan’s favorite picture of himself (so he said) and I reprinted it many times for him to sign for others. When he would ask me for a print, he was always apologetic for causing me the trouble.

He was the most gracious and beloved athlete that I have ever encountered in my 60 or so years photographing sports notables and events.

And his picture, signed to me, hangs in the favorite place in my home today…