By Jim Colton
When I first started in this business (in 1972 for those of you who want to know) there weren't a whole lot of photography workshops. It was more an era of work hard, play hard, learn on the run, get the job done and move on. But I was lucky. I had several terrific mentors along the way.
The first to take this long-haired teen under his wings was the director of the photo library at the Associated Press, Henry Mecinski. Every conversation with Henry started the same way. His glasses perched on the bridge of his nose, pipe in hand, he would bark, “Lemme ask you a question.” Always inquisitive, he genuinely wanted to know not only what I was doing, but why I was doing it -- looking out for me in an almost fatherly way. He got me excited about photojournalism and pushed me harder than he would his own son. He arranged my work schedule so I could work full time and finish my college degree. Because to him, “There’s nothing more important than that sheepskin, kid!”
So if and when you find one of these mentors in your life, grab hold and never let go! Eric Strachan is that kind of mentor.
Along the way he helped build and direct the photography staff, has won numerous awards for the newspaper, and led the editorial portion of three of the paper’s redesigns. He has also served as faculty for the Stan Kalish Picture Editing Workshop, the Mountain Photography Workshop and has been a judge for the editing portion of the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism contest. He is always giving back.
Needless to say, his impact on the Naples Daily News has been huge. He credits a lot of his success to hiring great talent along the way and “treating them like a partner, learning from each other and pushing each other as well.” As he rose on the masthead, he never looked down at those in the positions he left behind but rather embraced them, mentored them, and became the bridge between the editorial and visuals. Few have made the transition from photographer to managing editor as well.