It’s Not That Deep

One thing I’ve noticed often as I make my way through the photography world is that reverence is almost omnipresent; reverence for editors we want to work with, journalism/media institutions we dream of working for, photographers that we might want as mentors. Reverence is also certainly present in the sports world; reverence for our favorite players, for championship teams, for legendary ballparks.

In the past, reverence has often held me back. It bred fear, which stunted my creativity. I was a bundle of nerves before Opening Day, and what got me through it were four words Reggie, the Sox’s staff photographer, said to me at dinner a day or two prior: “It’s not that deep.” Once I processed that – that ultimately, I’m photographing the same thing I’ve always wanted to photograph, just in a MLB ballpark instead of a high school soccer field or college hockey rink – I felt a lot more free to make the same work that I always loved making.

There was a lot of fanfare associated with the first homestand, nearly all of it to celebrate the 2018 championship team; flag drops and ring ceremonies abound. Once that fanfare subsided, I started to learn the normal game workflow. Throughout the game, I send images to our social producers, and then I’ll archive my edited and full takes locally and online after the game ends.

My biggest struggle so far has been my workflow speed. I got slowed down a lot when filing, and by a lot of different things. So like a batter refining his swing, I got super analytical and tried to find all the things in my workflow that I could fix to improve my speed while staying organized. For me, it’ll involve investing in faster hard drives/card readers (USB3 or Thunderbolt), becoming fluent in our PM code replacement scheme, and being more decisive when making my final selections. 

I’ve obviously spent a lot of time analyzing my weaknesses up to this point, but truthfully, I’m pretty happy with my photos up to this point; my feature photos, especially have been pretty strong. (Shout out Detroit City FC for giving me so much practice.) Next homestand, I’ll be focusing more on the game itself, working to see the ball better off the bat, get more action/reaction, and better predict where and when the next big play will happen. 

I also made one of my favorite photos ever this week. Normally I’m slow about updating my portfolios themselves; not this time. I made this right after the One Boston Day flag drop; after the national anthem ends, they roll the flag down over the monster, and carry it through what we call The Yaz Door, one of the grounds crew entrances in deep left field.

So, yeah. I’m sore as I’ve ever been, but so far it’s been quite worth it. Two last first impressions/hot takes: Major League Baseball is 100% boutique fitness, and the Cheers theme song is Roséwave. Don’t @ me.

Instant Lessons

Hi friends! I’ve decided to start writing a blog for the duration of my time with the Boston Red Sox, in an attempt to keep an honest and forthright record of my successes and my struggles, as well as the lessons I learn along the way. 

After a whirlwind few days – packing up my life for the sixth time in a year, moving up to Boston, unpacking again, getting lost in the Park Street T stop a shameful number of times – I checked off my first day with the Red Sox yesterday. I was first introduced to literally dozens of people in the front offices and then sat in on a whirlwind meeting with Creative Services.

I then met with Billie Weiss, the Sox’s Manager of Photography, and Reggie Thomas, the staffer and a former intern. We talked about my goals, strengths and weaknesses, as a way to establish what I ought to be thinking about throughout the season. I got totally thrown for a loop here, when asked how I’d describe my photographic style in an elevator pitch. I knew how, what, and ostensibly why I liked to photograph what I photograph, but I had zero idea how to market any of it. The imposter syndrome was strong in that moment - I truly had no clue how I had gotten to this point. But there was a lesson in it; elevator pitches – for projects, and even yourself – are huge, and crafting them is far from easy.

We also walked through, a bit more slowly, six project pitches I drew up before arriving in Boston, and settled on two – one to finish before the All-Star break, and the other to finish by the postseason. I very quickly learned two lessons in that meeting: First, that pitching for a company’s marketing department is pretty different from pitching to a newspaper; you not only have to think about how to tell a good story, but also how to bring in money for the company. Second, that it’s super easy, and often detrimental, to cast your net too wide when pitching a project. One person, or one family, is more than enough for a good story – and trying to loop in too many characters and narrative elements can slow you down. 

I then got a tour of the park and a crash course in the workflow the Sox uses; the archives here are remarkably well-organized, more so than my own archives, which I thought were pretty good up to this point. Womp. Extensive metadata, particularly keywording, is the name of the game here. In short, when archiving, keyword both liberally and accurately. It’ll be so much easier to go back through your work later, and it’ll likely result in your images getting published more often. I got a bit of time in the afternoon to wander the park a bit more, and photograph some of the pre-Opening Day prep work, just so I could get used to the workflow a bit. Everyone here has been super welcoming so far, and I can’t wait to learn more; it feels like Opening Day is a decade away still, and I can’t wait to be in that atmosphere, but I know I’ll be there before I know it.

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