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If you’re a college basketball fan, you know who Rich Clarkson is, even if you don’t realize it.
That’s because Clarkson is the guy who took this picture. And this one. And this one. And too many others to count.
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Since he covered his inaugural NCAA men’s basketball Final Four in 1952, Clarkson has formed his own one-man dynasty, shooting pictures at a total of 59 men’s basketball championship rounds. The 82-year-old will conclude his run after Final Four number 60, which ends in Indianapolis on Monday, April 6th. To commemorate Clarkson’s remarkable career, Indy’s NCAA Hall of Champions is displaying some highlights this month.
Among these are the many events he’s shot for Sports Illustrated, which has been a gold standard for all magazine photography—not just sports—since its inception. In addition to college hoops, Clarkson has also worked multiple Olympic Games, and he was a contributor to the book I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America and another book from National Geographic (another photography gold standard) about Arlington National Cemetary. His work has even been reproduced on Wheaties boxes to honor the 1966 Texas Western squad (now the University of Texas-El Paso) that became the first team with five African-American starters to win the NCAA title.
He founded Clarkson Creative in 1989. The firm licenses its work and conducts seminars in visual storytelling from its Platte Street offices. (Clarkson has also been a team photogrpaher for both the Rockies and Broncos.) Chances are that whatever iconic images emerge from this year’s “Big Dance,” Mr. Clarkson will be behind the lens for more than a few of them.
Follow 5280 editor-at-large Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.