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|| News Item: Posted 2011-10-14

More than a cup of coffee – two seasons in The Bigs

By Alex Trautwig, Boston Univisersity

Photo by Alex Trautwig

Photo by Alex Trautwig
As a student and young photographer, I think it’s sometimes difficult to stay motivated and continue in the pursuit of a career in photojournalism. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of photographers that are vocal about their distaste for the “current state” of the industry and it’s hard to ignore it all, and in many instances it’s understandable. Although some might consider it naïve, it has not deterred my hopes.

During my very first game working for the New York Mets in the 2010 season, a photographer whom I’ve known for some time explained why he thought what I was doing was a mistake. Why it was a waste of time and why it probably wouldn’t work out for me as a photographer. This sentiment really only changed among other photographers I spoke to in regards to how badly they wanted to crush my hopes of becoming a photojournalist.

Despite some of these difficult conversations, I have stayed motivated and I think much of this is attributable to the fact that I’ve had some great working experiences. As of late, I have been fortunate enough to shoot for the New York Mets baseball club for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. think much of this is attributable to the fact that I’ve had some great working experiences.

During my first season in 2010, there was a large amount of adjusting and acclimating that needed to happen. I was fresh off my sophomore year at Boston College and I was now learning the ins and outs of a new office, a new ballpark, meeting all the people I would be interacting with throughout the organization, and trying to get a better handle on shooting baseball which is something I did not have a ton of experience doing prior to starting.

When I say that I don’t just mean Major League Baseball, I had only shot a handful of BC’s ACC games before starting. It didn’t take long, mostly out of necessity, to fall into the routine of working in the office while the team was away and quickly switching into “home stand mode” when the team returned home.

The best thing to do in a new situation is throw yourself into it 110 percent, and that’s what I decided to do.

A normal day could consist of editing and then being present on the field from the start of batting practice right up until the first pitch or might require an off- site visit with a player doing a community outreach appearance.

This was something that kept me on my toes and engaged; the unpredictability soon became a welcome feeling as we got into the later part of the season.

Being on the field from the start of batting practice was something that, at first, I didn’t appreciate as much but as the season went on it became one of my favorite things to do. Shooting batting practice is great, the players are relaxed and there are great opportunities to capture moments between players and players and coaches that you just can’t find during the course of a game. It quickly became very apparent to me during my first season that shooting for a team is an entirely different existence than shooting for a newspaper or wire.

Not better or worse, just different. I found that I had to be less concerned with “the story” or “the play” of the game and more concerned with focusing on documenting the team and their play, and it was part of my responsibility to make sure we had a folder for each player that was constantly being added to.

Of course, many great photos have come from concentrating on a specific player, or getting “the play” of the game, and we wanted photos of great plays that any Met made. That being said, it allowed me some considerable freedom to roam the stadium and look for new angles or unique photos that I might not otherwise get to look for. angles or unique photos that I might not otherwise get to look for.

Photo by Alex Trautwig

Photo by Alex Trautwig
As my first season with the team neared an end and school was fast approaching, I looked back on the summer as an incredible experience. I learned valuable things about shooting, editing and workflow that I quickly incorporated into my work for our school newspaper as soon as I returned to Boston. My boss, 23 year Mets employee and Chief Photographer Marc Levine, is the biggest reason I returned for a second season with the team, mainly because he is not only a boss and friend, but a great teacher whether he knows it or not. One of the hardest working people in photography, I knew, without question, that although the hours are long and the season is even longer, I would learn a lot and therefore hopefully grow as a photographer for a second consecutive summer.

After my first season, I saw how much work I did and how much work he still had to do himself and so the decision to come back for a second season was easy, even if the only thing that came from it was taking some of the burden off him.

What a lot of people failed to understand when I would talk about my job was that I worked Monday through Friday in the office when the team was away and then in the office during the day with games at night when the team was home. Some of our busiest days were when the team was away, but this schedule is really what made it such a unique experience. I was learning not only about photography, but also marketing, media relations, community outreach and publications because a big part of my work was preparing images for corporate clients and official Mets publications.

I was fortunate enough to learn the process of putting together the Mets magazine and yearbook as well as what kind of image would be needed for internal or sponsor use. This office experience was also valuable for me, it taught me important interpersonal skills as well as how to handle a completely different type of editing. It also helped improve my shooting for these uses as I learned what worked and what didn’t.

As is the case for any shoot, I needed to keep in mind who the client was and work to meet their needs, even if it wasn’t game action.

I don’t go to a journalism school. I don’t even go to a school that offers photojournalism as a class, much less a major. Most of my knowledge has come from some very helpful mentors that have gone above and beyond for me. Because of this, I cannot compare my working experience to anything I’ve learned in a classroom and perhaps this is why I feel that internships are still really important. why I feel that internships are still really important.

The simple fact remains that the best education you can get is real world experience. It’s true for almost any profession and I think it’s especially relevant for photography. There are no classes that could teach me the things I picked up while observing some of the other photographers working the games, and asking a few well-timed questions here and there.

Everyone has an opinion on internships, it’s come up multiple times on the Sports Shooter Message Board, and although some are paid, some are unpaid, and the time requirements change, I still believe the simple fact is that it’s all about learning and an internship is one of the best ways to do that. I had no idea what I wanted to say when I sat down to write this, but the most important thing is that I have been able to spend the last two summers learning from some great photographers and doing what I love . No matter what I end up doing after school or where photography takes me, I will look back on the two summers I spent with the team as two of the best I’ll probably ever have.

A quick thanks to all of the photographers that helped me over the course of the summer, and especially to all the people in the Mets organization that made me feel like a true member of the team and not just an intern. And thanks most of all to Mr. Marc Levine for his constant help, friendship and words of wisdom.

Alex Trautwig attends Boston University where he is photo editor of the independent student newspaper, The Heights. You can see samples of his work on his Sports Shooter member page: and at his personal website:

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