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.
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