I received sad news this past weekend of the passing of Ron Mann, who as Director of Photography at the Orange County Register in the 1980s, put together the greatest group of photographers I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
Ron was the true ‘Zen Master’ long before Phil Jackson. He knew just how to bring out the best in all of us and always had our backs if we stumbled reaching for new heights.
Photographing the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics was the classic David-versus-Goliath situation where it’s always much more fun to be David. Our competition, the Los Angeles Times, had 28 photo credentials. We has three. Rick Rickman, Hal Stoelzle and myself.
The odds were stacked against us. There was absolutely no way the three of us could stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the pack.
Ron encouraged us to take chances and to “swing for the fences.” Rather than settling for the safe shot, were free to improvise pick the spots our gut told us could pay off. We could take risks and he promised to have our backs if we swung and missed.
Standing away from the pack paid off with the Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography which Ron deserved every bit as much as the three of us.
May his memory always serve as a reminder to every editor that when you push your people to achieve greatness – you must have their backs if they falter.
Cheers my friend. You were one of the best!