Archived Story

Meet the newest member of Tribune staff

Published 9:46am Monday, March 24, 2014

Staff Notes by Colleen Harrison

If you hadn’t noticed already, I’m the newest addition to the Albert Lea Tribune. Along with being new to Albert Lea, I’m also new to the state of Minnesota in general.

I moved here from Michigan, by way of Pennsylvania, by way of Ohio. I grew up in a Cleveland suburb. I was raised in a house filled with music, art, books and adventure. My dad was a musician at heart and my mom loves anything that gets her hands dirty, whether it’s cooking, gardening or pottery.

My mom always had an interest in photography. A good deal of my childhood memories involve her holding her father’s old Pentax K1000. I think that’s where I first took an interest in photography as well. I’d follow her around, and she’d be nice enough to let me pretend to take pictures with her. Eventually I got old enough to be trusted with the camera, and started to develop my own interest even more. Photography was mainly a hobby of mine for a while, but I can pinpoint the exact moment when it became much more than that.

A good family friend of ours is a photojournalist, and when I was a kid she went on a trip to Africa. After she had gotten back and had developed the photos from her trip, she brought all of them over one day to share with us. I sat there looking through photos of animals, jungles and places I’d only ever read about, and something just clicked into place for me. I wanted to know the stories behind each photograph, each moment frozen in time by the close of a shutter and I wanted to witness them firsthand. I knew what I wanted to do with my life and who I wanted to be in that moment.

After that I took film classes in high school where I shot, developed and printed my own photos in the school’s darkroom. I attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh where I earned my bachelor’s degree in photography with an emphasis in photojournalism. From there I interned with two newspapers up in Michigan, while freelancing for others in-between.

I’ve only been out of school for about 2 1/2 years and have considered myself a professional for about three. In that span of time I’ve already witnessed so many stories that will stick with me for the rest of my life. I’ve witnessed what extreme violence in a city that’s consistently ranked one of the most dangerous in America can do to a community, and how they react and attempt to rebuild in its wake.

I’ve seen a community come together to help a sick 10-year-old girl find an organ donor so that she can live and enjoy her childhood, like any kid should be able to do. I’ve documented the aftermath of my own father’s unexpected and untimely passing, and have realized just how amazing the people in my life are in the process. I’ve seen so much in such a short span of time; I can’t imagine what else I’ll get to see.

I’ve traveled to Europe and across the U.S., and now I’ve come to Albert Lea. I’m extremely excited to be here, and can’t wait to find out what stories this community has to tell.


Colleen Harrison is the community editor at the Albert Lea Tribune.