As a Kansas City native, Jean Shifrin was thrilled the best photojournalism program in the country was practically in her own backyard. She was graduated in 1979 with a photojournalism degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. After graduation, she worked three years at the St. Joseph News-Press, where she was the first female photojournalist ever hired there. She then spent several years as an assistant in a Kansas City commercial photography studio. For nearly five years, Shifrin was a staff photographer at The Kansas City Star, photographing numerous Sunday magazine stories as well as honing her skills in the studio shooting fashion. While at The Star, she received the Nikon Documentary Sabbatical Grant in 1989 to photograph “Parents Again – Grandparents Who Are Raising Their Grandchildren.”
In 1990, Shifrin became a staff photographer at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. While there, she photographed many celebrities as well as traveled the world covering a wide range of stories. Her photographs won the Society of Professional Journalists Award for Non-Deadline Reporting, as well as the Overseas Press Award for Best Correspondent in Any Medium Showing A Concern For the Human Condition. Another long-term project “When Children Die,” in which she documented terminally ill children in one of the few children’s hospices in the country, won a Clarion Award. Shifrin has been a judge for the Pictures of the Year contest in Columbia, and she was a faculty member at the Missouri School of Journalism in 1990. In 2008, she was a featured speaker at the school’s centennial. After 25 years as an award-winning photojournalist, she left newspapers to start her own business in 2005, specializing in portraiture and documentary photography of babies and children. She regularly travels to India to document the work of Rising Star Outreach, whose goal is to eradicate leprosy and to improve the lives of those who are affected by it. Also, Shifrin volunteers with Flashes of Hope, an organization that works with professional photographers to create beautiful portraits of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.