As I stood there holding the camera to my eye with the barrel of my 300mm lens fixated straight down the first base line, I patiently waited as each lady approached the batter’s box for their opportunity to take a swing at the ball. Dust began to collect from the mound, wind shifted, and the Tuesday morning softball crowd cheered as the pitcher continued to strike one after another with the umpire yelling ‘YOUR OUT.’ At this moment it felt like any other day out at the softball complex, which generally included a cool morning breeze, saturated blue skies, and the smell of hot dogs sizzling on the grill.
Standing right near the dugout there is always some kind of joke and banter or incredibly loud screaming.
“JULIE WATCH THE BALL, RUN ON ANYTHING.”
“Yeah our team name is Silver Streakers, but us old ladies don’t streak around the community.”
“Speak for yourself Sally, this young man knows we can streak it like the best.” (At which point I want to pack my gear and go sanitize myself.) Took it a little too far lady…
But with a big smile on their face and a gracious thank you for coming out and covering their match, it is always a great time and I’m not stuck behind a desk all day so I can’t complain too much.
I hear it all and I see it all. Capture the big hits and the huge misses. See the collisions and go temporarily deaf from the screams. But I also sometimes overhear the things that pull on my heart-strings the most and make me wonder and think about life and all of the really great times, along with the most difficult parts.
Moving behind the first base coach to get a different perspective on the game, I hear two ladies talking behind me as they grip their hands onto the dugout fence looking on as I yet again bring my camera up to my eye to try to capture some action from the game. For a moment, time literally pauses. The ladies freeze in place as the ball slips from the pitchers hand and all that is heard are the two ladies behind me while I am frozen as well.
“I don’t know her name, but she is up to bat next.”
“Is it Carol?” The two women try to figure it out.
“No, I think it’s Sandra.”
“She has stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, but she comes out here still. Hits the ball, runs the bases. She’s not ready to give up.”
“Is she doing treatment?”
“Not sure, I know she bought a sports car recently because she has always wanted one. I heard that she may not make it, but she loves it out here, she loves the game of softball.”
Coming up to bat my lens seems to look right into her eyes and for a moment pure happiness is seen. The cancer is not there, the worries are buried in the clay under third base, and she swings with everything she has as her bat connects with the ball.
I walked back to my car and packed up my camera gear hoping that wasn’t going to be her last game. I wondered if she would make it till next Tuesday so she could play the game that she loves, gathered around good friends that make her happy.
Every day I am connecting with somebody else indirectly or directly through the diversity and uniqueness of my career as a photojournalist. These opportunities are allowing me to capture something amazing every single day from people who I know nothing about. Yet we share a common ground of being strangers to each other and I am capturing their personal moments through how I view the world.