Nov 15

A girl and her camera. Or a camera and its girl?

This post borders on navel-gazing with a pinch of #humblebrag and you’re more than welcome to skip it.

In middle school, I caught the photography bug, sort of. All I had was a Kodak disposable camera at a high school basketball game, but I realized that I could capture a couple of dramatic basketball moments despite the flimsy piece of cardboard in my hand and my position way up in the bleachers.

From there, I actually put picture taking on the back burner for a long time. I did a bit in high school as part of the newspaper staff, but  I ended up covering beats like the principal’s office, the superintendent’s office, and the computer club.* None of those were conducive to exciting photography, so I didn’t really do much of it.

*of which I was a founding member and eventually president, so heyyyyy, conflict of interest, but whatever.

In college, I never took a full photography course. Photography was the focus of one-third of a semester of a class called Visual Literacy, but it pretty much just covered the basics of camera functions, which I had learned in high school. Very little of what I know about photography now came from a classroom.

At some point while I was in college, my brother Brad decided to take up photography. The thing about Brad is, when he sets his mind to a new hobby, he really throws himself into it, and he’s good at basically everything he’s ever done. He bought himself a Nikon D40, and I was fascinated by it. Because he’s an awesome big brother, he let me try it out.

First, it was just a few pictures at family gatherings. Then, “we” would take the camera to a baseball or hockey game, and I put “we” in quotes because I took most of the pictures. Then I started taking his camera to games he wasn’t even at. There came a point when it became ridiculous that I didn’t have a camera of my own, so for Christmas in 2010, Brad coordinated with my whole family to give me the D40. My mom came up with an elaborate setup, giving me smaller gifts in a specific order, and the first letter of each of those gifts spelled out C-A-M-E-R-A.

A whole lotta happy disbelief on my face.

And there it was. My very own DSLR. A few weeks later, my – MY! – camera accompanied me to Royals FanFest, which was an opportunity I got via writing, not photography, but I took a few pictures nonetheless. Then I tried my hand at landscapes while traveling to Palm Springs, California for an internship.

One of the iconic bridges along Highway 1.

After that, my bosses in Palm Springs let me spend a good deal of time taking pictures (around my other duties, of course).
My favorite shot of the day!

My stuff even made it on to the cover of a magazine in Palm Springs. I think it was that point when I shifted from seeing myself as a writer who sometimes takes pictures to…something more picture-centric, but not really cool enough to be a “photographer.”

BUT THEN 2012 happened. After I decided to quit being a Storm Girl for the Chasers, I applied for a press pass. Then the team hired me to do the Storm Chasers’ player cards. Then, Wil Myers arrived in Omaha and basically every MiLB-related website needed me to take pictures of him. Then, Salvador Perez rehabbed here and the Kansas City Star asked me for some shots of him to use in the paper.

Then, for reasons I still don’t understand, I got to don a grey NCAA vest and get media access to the College World Series, where dozens of real photographers graciously taught me many techniques and trade secrets. I got to see everything, from  idiots on the field to Sad SeaWolves (below) to the Arizona dogpile (Cat-pile?) at the end.
Stony Brook's William Carmona in the dugout following the team's elimination.
AND THEN, through a convoluted string of Twitter-based connections, I got hired to take pictures at a party thrown by the MLBPA in Kansas City. The party was right after the Home Run Derby and was attended by many MLB All-Stars and sundry other celebrities. I met Justin Verlander, and I’m still not entirely sure that whole week wasn’t an elaborate dream because, holy crap. I’m just a simple girl from a tiny town. Where I come from, “going shopping” meant heading to JC Penney, and Omaha seemed like a big city.  All of a sudden, then, when I found myself at a swanky party giving directions to CJ Wilson (himself a noted photographer) for a picture, I wondered: How the hell did I get here?

The camera. That’s how. The D40 might not be the newest, fanciest model out there, but with it in my hands I was given opportunities I never dreamed of, because I had no idea I could even dream that big.

It’s almost with a touch of sadness, then, that I have decided it’s time to upgrade. That little D40 has brought me so much joy, and I think I’m not the only one who likes the pictures it has taken. Countless blogs and news sites have come to me for free, legal, high-quality pictures, which I always share willingly. Players have used them as their Facebook and Twitter profile pics, and players’ moms have emailed from faraway places to thank me for taking and posting pictures of their boys.

I have had the time of my life doing what I do. This year in particular has been one dream-come-true after another. But I can do better. Toward the end of the season, I borrowed Brad’s D3100 for a few games, and the difference in picture quality is astonishing, even with the same lenses and the same lighting conditions.

Maier in the dugout

Taken with the D40 (old camera). Everything is SUPER grainy, even across a pretty short distance, because the sun had started to go down. Click the picture to get a closer look on Flickr.


Taken with the D3100. Much finer detail, even though it was darker outside than in the other example. Colors are also much more rich and true-to-life. Click the picture to get a closer look on Flickr.


You all have shown me, with your continued interest in the pictures I take, that it will be worth my while to spend the money for an upgrade. I’ve narrowed my choices down to two cameras, both priced around $600. Will you please help me cover that cost? As usual, I’m NOT asking for a straight-up cash donation. All I ask is that you make your regular Amazon purchases through my Affiliate link. Doing this costs you nothing, and means the world to me. Even if you’re just buying a Kindle book for a buck or two, the quantity of items matters too, so each purchase is an important contribution. Thank you so, so much.

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1 comment

  1. Chris

    My god, Minda, even my unartistic, very pedestrian eye can tell the difference between the two pictures. Amazing. I promise to try very, very hard to remember to use your link for my Amazon purchases; I’ll probably be ordering my baseball annuals soon.

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