Exclusive: Photographer Roy Inman Reveals Details Behind “The Shot” From Wednesday’s Epic Chiefs Rally

Roy Inman strikes again. The illustrious photographer and historian was at ground zero for Wednesday’s epic Chief’s parade and subsequent revelry.

For decades, Inman has been Union Station’s stalwart photographer. He was there during the Royals memorable World Series win. And he was the only—and we mean onlyphotojournalist who was allowed access to get the shot of the century from the roof—as hundreds of thousands of Chiefs fans partied below him.

He’s a pretty good storyteller too. So here’s his day in words—and pictures.

Pre-dawn the day of the parade. (Photo credits: Roy Inman)

“Cold. Blustery. Sleet. Snow. Snow grains.

Did I mention cold?

Which is exactly the way an old-fashioned, fire-eating press photographer wannabe likes it. I mean, like, the badder it is, the better the pictures. And the more righteous he feels for enduring it.

On the roof of historic Union Station we experienced it all a few seconds in advance of the assembled, die-hard Chiefs fans massed below. No consolation for them. As I climbed the 12-foot ladder and peered over the roof ledge of Union Station, it was, in the words of Yogi Berra, ‘de ja vu all over again.’

Spanning out before these jaded eyes was a sight I had seen only once before: When the Royals and fans were celebrating their World Series win in 2015 over the hated and feared by Midwesterners, New Yawkers, the Mets in particular, that year. Hundreds of thousands of blue dots, each representing a living, breathing human, who had been standing in the same, bladder-challenging spot for many, many hours. (Back then it was a balmy, God is in His holy temple and all’s right with the world, Indian summer November 3rd.)

In 2015, Kansas City, the cops, the portapotty guys, Union Station, and I were all facing the unknown. I arrived a scant 15 or so minutes before the stage stuff started, scampered up the ladder, was able to make just a few images before being directed off by the fire marshal.

Chiefs fan rally pre-rally—long, long before the sun comes up.

But well in advance of the Chiefs 31~20 win over the snooty San Francisco 49ers (what with all their so-called world-class eateries and Fisherman’s Wharf), our Union Station team was rehearsing every step, minute-by-minute. Our playbook was rock solid.

And it worked!

Unlike the Royals 2015 rally on that teddy-bears picnic day, we had oodles of time for this 2020 version of the largest class photo ever struck in Kansas City. We had the luxury of a friendly clock this time around to prepare equipment, gather our hand-warming thingys and take multiple test shots prior to the big moment.

Be there BEFORE 4:00 a.m.‘ was the call to duty. Now let me pause right here: If there is a more non-morning person on the planet besides me, I know him or her not. My idea of an ideal day is breakfast around 11:00 a.m., get serious about work at 3 p.m., and go ‘til midnight.

But for ‘The Shot’ even I will make the sacrifice and arise early.

Up at 1:30 a,m., arrival at Union Station at 2:30.

Inman perched on his ledge at Union Station. (Photo credit: Ben Smith)

In the fullness of time—and after several dry runs to the roof to check this and that—the moment arrived. The crowd was all cloaked in Chiefs red, even that guy in the tree. On this day we could create a panoramic image the way it was intended to be made—camera in a portrait orientation, optical-center finder gadget in place.

Hey there, Tree Guy!

Nine exposures in all, digitally stitched together, tenderly stroked and currycombed, slow-cooked in a digital soup, and finally served with loving care in the form you see here.”

Want to get your mitts on Inman’s limited-edition handiwork? Union Station is selling commemorative copies of their soon-to-be famous poster for $25. Pick them up at the Union Station ticket office or order online. Proceeds go to the Union Station Preservation Fund to help maintain our historic monument for generations to come. Archival prints are available at www.royinmanphotos.com.

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