The National League Wild Card matchup between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago Cubs was not-so-wild following a complete game shutout by Cubs ace Jake Arrieta. With the way Arrieta has pitched this season, particularly in the last month of the regular season, not even a trip back to the future with Marty McFly could’ve helped the Pirates. S0metimes there are forces that even a former NL MVP and Pittsburgh’s consistently incredible pitcher, Gerrit Cole, could stop and this could easily be the postseason that many Cubs fans have looked forward to for many years.
Either way, I was privileged to again witness and document history at PNC Park as the game hosted the largest crowd ever recorded at the stadium in its 15-year history.
And just like those players who are forced to pack up their locker rooms and regroup for next season, soon enough comes the same time of the year for myself to evaluate the year and make any necessary changes. Learning from previous endeavors is a huge part of the never-ending goal of constantly improving both on my skills as a photojournalist and how I can become a better person.
With that, I’ll leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes from former MLB commissioner Bart Giamatti:
“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.”
Last night This morning had all the feelings of an October playoff game. A loud, involved, sellout crowd. Nationally televised. A little controversy and drama. And the best two teams in major league baseball facing off against each other. Neither of which were willing to concede even into the early morning hours.
To have a game like this happen before the All-Star break is even underway is a pretty special thing to have been a part of. Its moments like these that remind me to appreciate exactly what it is that I get to do for a living on a daily basis.
It had all the makings of a great story. But putting my own words together and making them interesting is not my forte, so I’ll leave you with ten of my favorite images that hopefully do the storytelling that way. Enjoy!
We are officially one-third of the way through the major league baseball season. As a photographer, it’s always a good idea to reevaluate and look back on your progress made. It’s a healthy routine to get into as I think it helps keep us all from becoming complacent and forces us to always be improving. There’s certainly no sense in making the same images at the same event, all year long. In order to have a diverse, yet complete look to your body of work, you need to explore all angles, light, etc. Approaching the same assignment with a different lens or focal length can make a huge difference. Having a little bit of luck fall your way is always nice too!
Take chances. For every image I’ve ever ‘made’, I’ve also missed some moments as well. That’s just the nature of the business we’re in. Of course we always hear the saying, “Go where everyone else isn’t”, but the reason we hear that so often is because it’s still so true. Sometimes it’s the only reason we have. Sometimes it works out. And when it does, it’s always worth it.
Obviously we all have jobs to do at these events. There are always clients to please and typically a small window to fit it all into on deadline. But get to your assignment early, explore, fulfill your client’s needs, then go and show the world how you see things. But be patient. Just like in the game of baseball, you may only find that unique picture once every few times you attempt to go after it. However, batting .300 is a really good statistic to have, even if it doesn’t include a home run.
Here is a small collection of my favorite images so far this season from PNC Park. Enjoy!
Opening Day. My favorite holiday. Well, it’s not so much a holiday for me as it is for a lot of kids who get to skip school for a baseball game. But it still brings the same sense of joy and excitement that it does for those kids playing hooky.
It also gives me an added reason to go out and mingle with the people and shoot some features. Some years it has been miserable, rainy, and cold. But yesterday topped 80 degrees and according to Dave Arrigo, the Pirates team photographer, it was probably the warmest he’s ever experienced. That brought everyone out, including one of the coolest parts about Pittsburgh – the Allegheny River boat tailgaters. What a better way to enjoy the weather, catch a ball game, AND avoid the busy traffic and parking that comes with it! I even met some folks aboard ‘JAWS’ who have been coming for over 30 years.
Now, every opening day is a bit hectic. It’s always packed full of media, no matter how good or bad your team may be that year. And there are surely many parts to the ceremony before the first pitch even gets thrown. But if you just take it in stride and enjoy the fresh smell of pine tar, the sights of the lush green grass, and the sound of the ball against the back of a mit, your attitude will help reveal those pictures that encapsulate the first day of baseball season.
If everything we asked for and chased after resulted in our ideal outcome, what fun would that be? As an artist, I’d never learn how to get better at my craft nor would we strive to become better people.
We would be stagnant and boring with nothing to surprise us.
Why am I bringing this up? Because my quality of life will soon be in a much better place: Pittsburgh.
This February I will be moving back home to the city of bridges.
I’ve been three years removed from the place that taught and gave me so much. And even in such a short time, it has changed a lot. Just ask my good friend and artist, Baron Batch, who is making things happen over at Studio AM in Homestead, a part of western Pennsylvania that is especially close to my heart. It’s where my grandfather, or ‘Pap’ as I called him, grew up and made his living for so many years. The same man who introduced me to the city, Three Rivers Stadium, and the Stillers.
Whereas Gerald Wickerham, or Pap, was executive director of the North Side Development Council working on constructing new offices and landmarks during the height of the steel industry, this generation of young creatives are finding ways to repurpose those same interiors with their own ideas designed for today’s world while still maintaining the blue-collar mentality.
One foot firmly planted in the past and the other proudly moving forward towards the future.
It’s exciting to have the opportunity to put my own stamp on a city that was molded by previous generations of my family. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy my time in Boston. I met some really great people, experienced historical moments, both good and bad, and made some pictures that I’m proud of. And for those things, I am truly grateful.
But it’s time to come home to the place I truly belong.
Being back in Pittsburgh is a feeling unlike any other. It’s a combination of the tangible and intangible moments. There is certainly a general sense of feeling welcome in such a friendly part of the world. But there’s also a self-confidence that comes with being in a place that is open to change and taking chances. There are no limits to what someone can accomplish in such a progressive place.
Don’t get me wrong – nothing will come easily. There will be a new set of challenges that await. But with the support of friends (let’s face it, they’re really family at this point) like Jeff & Beth Swensen, Justin Merriman, Stephanie Strasburg, Mickey & Molly Miller, Andy Russell, Jasmine Goldband, Baron Batch, Sean Beauford, and the rest of the folks I’ve missed dearly these last few years, I can’t go wrong.
And not to mention all of the Pamela’s hotcakes I can eat!