To Be Near The Game.

Challenger Baseball Athlete at the Field of Abilities in Belleville, ON.

Growing up, my dream was to make it to the Majors, play baseball and live the dream.  I had learned so much about life from the game.  But by my early twenties, I knew that beautiful dream would always be that.  I had developed a skill for working with kids and focused on social and community-based work.  Baseball was never far though, I still played somewhat competitively and played well into my mid-30s.  Throwing the ball around was always a good way of connecting with young people, especially kids who, for one reason or another, did not want to talk.  Baseball, and sport in general, was a tool of connection and relationship-building.   

Photography has been a hobby of mine since my early twenties.  I remember picking it up during the 4 summers I taught athletics at a camp in Pennsylvania.  It started out with positive comments from friends and family, and grew into a passion of trying to perfect techniques, studying the greats, and learning/experimenting to find a mix and match of new and old techniques that represent the way I see life and people.

Always, I had baseball.  I had photography.  I had my community work.  Always, I had managed to balance all three separately, secretly wanting to find a way to merge them, believing that the sum of all parts was more fulfilling than doing them separately and that the opportunity to do so would one day present itself.  

This year, I found that sweet spot. Hired to tell visual stories of the impact baseball has on supporting the development of young people and communities.  Working with the Jays Care Foundation, the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays, has been a blessing.  I hope to continue to be able to tell these visual stories of community, belonging, growth, and dignity, and to be able to share them as sources of inspiration.  

What is fulfilling is the chance to tell a story that my subject would be proud of.  Truth is, I would love the accolades of a story that people are touched by, but the power of the story will always be connected to its subject, who should always look back on their story as a source of dignity. This is what I aim to do and what I seek most in my visual storytelling. In the end, this is what I wish to give back.

Challenger Baseball athlete during hitting drills.

Jays Care athlete preparing to throw out the first pitch at a Jays game.

Challenger Baseball athlete at bat

Challenger Baseball athlete running through drills.

Lisa, Belleville Challenger Baseball Coordinator, volunteering for the past 9 years.

Sandra, Jays Care Affiliate School coach throwing out the first pitch at a Jays game for Jackie Robinson Day.

Blue Jays pitchers, Tim Mayza and Erik Swanson, participating in a Jays Care Girls At Bat Jamboree at the Rogers Centre.

Perhaps my childhood dream was incomplete. Perhaps it took time to develop those other areas I now realize I needed. Perhaps that is the lesson in all of this, that finding fulfillment in life takes time and that every moment and experience is a lesson to understand one’s self. 

with dignity and respect…Lee 

Looking back to look forward.

When I was younger, I used to see the time between my birthday in the early part of December until the new year, as a period of transition.  It was the chance to see what this past year was and what the changing tides would bring.  As I got older and busier, I often felt like I didn’t have the chance to catch my breath let alone take the time to ground myself in the flow of past, present, and future.  

But with the ever-increasing stresses of adulthood, you find yourself seeking those experiences that give you energy and allow you a chance to live. 

So I find myself, at this moment, making sure that I have the time to find grounding.  This past year, I’ve learnt that there is more than just being skilled in a particular area.  What I mean is that if what you are good at doesn’t bring you fulfillment, then keep searching and stay open to opportunities that bring you fulfillment.  I’ve also learnt how to find out if something is fulfilling.   To me, it is finding something that energizes me, that connects me to all that life has to offer.  Perhaps being isolated during the COVID pandemic really made me realize what didn’t fulfill me, even though I may have been skilled at it.

This past year, I had the chance to experience the full spectrum and here are a few images from those experiences that filled me with life: 

I can not tell you how deeply connected I am to the sport of baseball.  To me, this image speaks loudly to the importance of knowing you belong.

I’m so happy I grabbed this photo.  I always believe it is important to shine light on those that work hard without it. Image of the Program Staff for the Jays Care Foundation, a group of caring and passionate people who truly do care to make impact on the lives of children and youth.

I met Canadian Olympian, Aaliyah Edwards, from the Women’s National Basketball Team in August.  I have no problem looking up to people younger than me, especially when they are so dedicated, passionate, and driven.

The women’s basketball community is so much more together.  Despite the competition, they actually cheer and support each other.  They know they are building something bigger than just themselves. The image is from the Coachmom women’s basketball showcase where college scouts from Canada and the US are able to watch the athletes practice and scrimmage.

I am always grateful for opportunities to clients I get to support  again and again.  DJ Producer, Simon Doty, is one of them.  It is really amazing to see the success he has built in the EDM music industry.  Also, grateful to Rhetorical Music Management for trusting me to deliver.

When I was young, I loved looking at clouds. They were the setting and subjects of many stories that lived in my mind.  This image was taken as we were landing in Miami.

Finally visited Miami Beach this year.  I had never been.  So thankful to get a glimpse of a different way of living on this blue dot.  I even took off my sunglasses like Horatio Caine.

The experiences of this past year also helped me to realize the direction I want to take for 2023 and I look forward to welcoming in new experiences.  Whatever lay ahead, I am thankful for these moments I had.  I wish everyone a happy new year and may you find happiness in all of the memories you make this upcoming year.

with dignity and respect…Lee 

It’s not the age, but how you go about it.

I remember strolling down E 56th Street at 5th Avenue in Manhattan a few years back.  It was sometime in October and I was just walking the streets with my camera that day, a Fujifilm X-E2.  Which is the digital camera I carry around with me when I just go for a walk about.  I remember looking to capture what I love about NYC, that you can get a dose of all kinds of difference on the same street corner. 

But then, this struck me: an older gentleman gliding through the intersection on his bicycle.  The man was uber-stylish – a comfy and warm tweed jacket, fitted beige slacks, two-toned and textured leather boots, capped off with a green wool  ivy cap, sunglasses and scarf.  He was carrying this vibrant orange back pack. He was riding this somewhat put-together bike with a massive chain lock wrapped around the neck of his seat. Of course, it had a vibrant yellow plastic bag on it for protection from the rain I could only suppose.  It was a bike that belonged here, in NYC. The man too.  This was a man who was stylish for his own sake and not any one elses.

As I was following him in frame, he led me towards this other man, crossing the street within the lines of the crosswalk, walking away from me. This man had a long beige trench coat, which looked like it was covering a dark pinstripe suit.  He wore black dress shoes and finished off his look with wool gloves, a grey fedora, and what looked to be aviator sunglasses.

I couldn’t help but compare and contrast the two strangers. So different.  It triggered in me a pondering of how I would be at their age. Would I be hip and comfortable in my own style, alive and full of pep? Riding a bike in the middle of the city and indulging my inner youth still? Or, would I be the other gentleman, aged, controlled,  following the path and chasing proper?

Quickly, I take a snap and continue on my way. It isn’t until afterwards, after downloading and seeing the photo once again that I continue to ponder this dilemma, ‘what kind of man will I end up being? Which one of these men stand at the end of my trajectory?’    And now, I can’t help but think about it when I see this photo.  I keep asking this same question, continuing to wonder, even as I get closer and closer to that age.  

with dignity & respect…Lee