Pulitzer Prize-Winning Photographers, Picklers and Pals
Eli Reichman and Dan White met at The Kansas City Star during the summer of 1981. The two staff photographers clicked right away, becoming fast friends.
When tragedy struck at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City on July 17, 1981, their photos would help tell the story.
“It’s really hard to go in and shoot this type of devastation,“ shares Eli. “It was not just a difficult day, night, and following day, the entire staff spent most of the summer documenting the shattering impact it left on the lives of so many.“
Dan’s iconic photo showing the scene of destruction ran across the top of the Sunday Star’s front page, as well as in newspapers around the world. Ultimately, the staff at The Star won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of one of the worst commercial structural failures and the heartbreaking loss of life.
More than four decades later, Eli and Dan are still passionately engaged in their craft. Both knew early on they wanted to see the world through the lens of a camera. Both have enjoyed long, successful careers as freelance photographers. Both have earned local, national, and international acclaim along the way.
What’s The True Test of a Picture?
According to Eli and Dan, the answer is: how well it withstands the test of time. This has always been the measuring stick of their careers. Eli asserts, “We strive to make images that will be as relevant in the future as they are today.“
Eli and Dan’s online portfolios more than measure up. What you’ll find are hundreds of timeless and arresting images.
Dan’s portraiture is nothing short of amazing. His talents for lighting and composition have resulted in a stunning exhibition of Kansas City jazz musicians.
His other notable works include the Lost Boys of Sudan, cowboys in western Kansas, and Aboriginal peoples in Australia. He has also produced books on Independence, Missouri and Cambridge, England. “I continue to get excited about making beautiful images,“ says Dan. “I don’t plan to ever stop. I’m passionate about my work. It provides meaning and purpose to my life.“
Eli’s compelling brand of photojournalism makes it impossible to look away. In a Special Report for The Tulsa Tribune in October 1984 titled “Wasting Away in Oklahoma,“ Eli’s photographs exposed the ill treatment and neglect of persons with severe mental disabilities. His images painted a haunting and disturbing picture of a broken and archaic system of care.
Today, Eli produces photography and videography for Soft Power Health, a healthcare clinic providing care to disadvantaged communities throughout Uganda. And since 2006, he has been shooting a documentary film on a ranching community in North Dakota. He anticipates a 2024 release.
Friends That Play Together, Stay Together.
Dan recalls getting to know Eli. “You go from talking about photography to discovering that you have a lot of similar interests,“ he says. Over the years, the friends have shared a mutual love of travel, hiking, and a friendly game of Euchre.
“Anything with a racquet, we’ve done together,“ says Dan. “We’ve played tennis, racquetball, squash, and ping pong.“
Dan introduced Eli to pickleball. And America’s fastest growing sport continues to grow on Eli. It’s not only a good workout, but the social element keeps “picklers“ coming back for more.
When Eli and Dan meet on the court, there’s a lot of laughter and friendly competition. Dan is 66. Eli is 65. Both like to win. They relish the back and forth of the game and are quick for their age.
Dan laughs, “You know what our biggest problem is Eli? We think we’re still 32. We’re out there running stuff down that we probably shouldn’t be. As we get older, we’ve got to learn to say ‘nah, I’m not gonna go for that one.’“
Eli finds pickleball to be enjoyable and challenging. “It’s a great sport. You can get the same endorphin rush as tennis, only you don’t feel as beat up afterwards,“ he laughs.
Dan likes the camaraderie of the game, too. “The people are great. They’re willing to give you advice and throw a lot of encouragement your way,“ expresses Dan.
Snapshots of Life
After living in Oregon and Virginia, Eli and his partner Anastasia returned to their hometown of Kansas City in April 2021. The couple bought a fixer upper home they share with their three Labradors, Prize, Solomon, Micah, and cat, Rafa.
“When I’m not working or playing pickleball, I’m out in the field training my dogs, mountain biking, working on the house, or travelling to see my kids. It’s a very full life,“ Eli shares.
Dan is a native of Flint, Michigan. He’s called Kansas City home for 42 years and currently resides in the West Bottoms.
“I’m very involved in the local music, art, and food scenes. And I enjoy travelling,“ says Dan. “My longtime partner, Melissa, lives in LA but we regularly spend time together.“
Pictures of Health? You Bet.
We asked Eli and Dan to share their thoughts on aging well. Eli follows an adage from his grandfather: Youth is not a time of life, it is a state of mind.
“Everything in moderation, life is about balance,“ says Eli. “Eat well, exercise, find something you’re passionate about. I think a potential casualty of retirement is not having something that drives you every day.“
Dan advises, “Take care of yourself. Get out and move. Be curious. And if you can operate from a position of gratefulness and gratitude, that’s always a good thing.“
Photography has given Eli and Dan a unique window on the world. “Maybe it’s opened our eyes a bit more than some,“ suggests Eli. “It’s really important, as Dan said, to be grateful for what you have.“
Eli concludes, “To me every day is a new challenge. I wake up and see how I can put my best self out in the world today. I think that’s part of staying young.“