Being a commercial photographer in Arizona, getting a call to photograph a baseball player at spring training is not a what-if but rather an inevitability. Truth be told, they are the photo shoots that you cherish because of the calmness that exists on set. However, there are aspects of them that make them unique and different than any other sports shoot, including baseball, when done during the season.

Spring Training Photographer

I can’t remember the first time I photographed a baseball player during Spring Training, but one of the earlier ones was Barry Bonds. I was still in college and remember having to ask a professor if I could take a midterm at a later date so that I could do the photo shoot. He was this burly old man who had a long ponytail and loved Harleys. I could tell he had probably heard every excuse in the book, but this one was unique. I was already doing very well in the class, and the midterm was somewhat superfluous to my overall grade; he answered,” If you can prove that you are really doing this, you don’t even need to take the midterm. A couple of days later, I visited him during his office hours and gave him my press pass. Midterm completed.

Clayton Kershaw Spring Training


One of the fun/funny/terrifying aspects of photographing baseball players in Arizona or Florida during spring training is not the photo shoot itself, it is the journey. Spring Training stadiums are significantly smaller and very much more accessible. Setting up studios and lighting in them is easy and conducive to creating great art. However, Spring Training attracts many retired folks who tend to show up to baseball games three hours early, right around the same time that you would be doing the photo shoot. It is more dangerous in the commute than any other photo shoot out there. There’s a high likelihood that some 85-year-old in a rented Suburban is going to cross over five lanes to take a right in front of you, so survival en route is probably the most difficult task of your day.


An ironic part of my spring training photo shoots is that I have actually photographed the same amount of players in Florida as I have in my home state of Arizona. The commute is a bit different as it involves quite a bit of time in the air. Another aspect that is a bit different with working around the schedules of baseball players in Florida is that they tend to like to be photographed significantly earlier than those in Arizona. On most occasions, I have been in stadiums with players that had no one in the seats, whereas I have actually photographed the commissioner of baseball in Arizona during a game. Perhaps it is the pace of life differences between the two regions. 


One of the funniest experiences I’ve ever had on set occurred while photographing Josh Beckett and John Lester while they were on the Red Sox. I had flown into Florida two days before in an effort to adjust to the time zone and also get donuts at a place that I had seen on the Food Network. A quick aside: whenever you see some show on TV that talks about donuts that have bacon on them and how unique and great they are, the experience is far from this, as I just don’t feel the two of those fare well together, but I digress. 

Josh Beckett Spring Training

Arriving at the stadium on the day of the photo shoot, my crew and I quickly began setting up a studio that was near the dugout. As is the case with many photo shoots of celebrity athletes, security is necessary, as you need to make sure that the set is not interrupted and you can have as much focus from both of them and your team without worrying about interruptions. I had two security personnel from the stadium making sure this was possible. The first player I photographed was Josh Beckett, an easy-going and fun guy to talk to about watches… Also, he happened to win a World Series for the Red Sox. Halfway through the set with him, some guy walks right through the studio we had set up without a shirt and having some type of animated conversation on a cell phone at 7 AM. He proceeded onto the baseball field and walked in circles while waving his left hand and holding his phone in his right. I’m not completely confident he was sober. At that moment, I looked over to the security guard while taking a brief pause from photographing Josh and mimicking him in an effort to ask why he let some random guy walk through the set, especially when I had a star pitcher in front of the camera. He understood completely what I had said and responded, “We don’t mess with Coach.”

It was just one of the many great experiences that exists during spring training photo shoots. Perhaps it is because the players are not in the season at that point and don’t have any worries about competition or winning the next game but rather getting back in the groove of things. Some guys have even talked about spring training being therapeutic to them as they had just spent months at home with screaming kids and that being on the field is peaceful. Either way, they are photo shoots that I always enjoy. Whether the ad campaigns are for athletic apparel or chocolate milk that doesn’t expire (yes, I photographed a baseball player drinking fake chocolate milk), they are relaxed. After all, who doesn’t like creating art in 70 degrees and sunshine in March?