“Who in Europe, or in America for that matter, knows that Kansas City is one of the loveliest cities on earth?”
–André Maurois, French writer
Maurois was the pseudonym of French writer Emile Salomon Herzog, who spent time in Kansas City and lectured at the old Kansas City University. The quote appeared in his “From My Journal,” which was translated to English in 1947.
Maurois was taken with our downtown, and with our well-planned residential neighborhoods. “The streets follow the curves of the hills or the winding of streams,” he observed.
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Decades after Maurois bestowed upon us this gushing (and true!) compliment, I say it’s still true.
I’ve been photographing Kansas City for nearly six decades. My fascination began seriously at age 15, when my buddies and I would ride on our bikes on the lower level of the Intercity Viaduct from KCK over to the “big town,” cameras strapped to our bike carriers. It was as much a teenage adventure as it was a photo outing.
Those early attempts were uneven at best, owing to our lack of technical skills both behind the camera and in the darkroom. Only a few negatives survived.
Much later, when I had a car and was working for publications including The Star, I upped my game and shot in color as well as black and white.
The skyline has since filled in, with magnificent new buildings — such as the Kauffman Center and and One Light Plaza — and restored ones, such as Union Station and the KCP&L Building.
I chose these photos because each had some element of design, lighting, interaction with a weather event or angle that made a building, landscape or area stand out to me. I want to go beyond the typical postcard view of KC; I want the alternate views.
The Kauffman Center, for example, appears very different in daytime than at night, and different still in the rain. A single detail or vignette can reveal much about a subject like the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Although all were shot in color, a few subjects looked better in black and white. And I confess, I am partial to certain buildings and points of interest, like Union Station (where I documented its restoration), bridges and our fabulous fountains.
These photographs were not created over a single weekend. Sometimes I returned to the same spot for several consecutive years to get what I wanted. Catching the Plaza lights and snow in the same shot at the same time, for instance, required considerable patience.
See more of Roy Inman’s photographs at www.royinmanphotos.com