An interview by Deanne Fitzmaurice with former Major League Baseball player, Ken Griffey, Jr., one of the most prolific home run hitters of all-time. Ken Griffey, Jr. is now a photographer, shooting NFL and college football games for ESPN from the sidelines.
ESPN photographer, Scott Clarke, says, “He’s actually pretty good. He has that hand-eye coordination.”
I called Griffey at his Florida home to talk with him about his new passion for photography.
“When I’m on the sidelines, people don’t bother photographers so its a way for me to really watch the game”, Griffey says.
“The biggest challenge is the speed of the game, trying to catch where the ball is going. The fun part is capturing the moments.”
“I have the privilege to know some of the best photographers in the business like my mentor, Scott Clarke from ESPN and Walter Iooss from Sports Illustrated, because of my background. I can call upon these guys and ask them questions. Being around them, I see what they do and what they see.”
The best advice he has received from his mentors:
“Read the manual.”
He is trying to learn everything he can about photography and recently attended a 3-day Nikon School seminar. “Now, as a photographer I look around me and I see things differently.” Not only is he interested in photographing sports but he would also like to branch out to broader subjects including wildlife and is contemplating an African safari.
Griffey is also using his photography talent to give back to local families. “In the area where I live in Florida, some people don’t have much money so I go out and shoot Pop Warner football games then make 8×10 prints for the parents. For me it’s about giving back something special to a family.”
Griffey’s son, Trey, is a wide receiver at the University of Arizona so he photographs some of his games, including the recent Fiesta Bowl. Griffey says about his son, “He’s one of those guys who isn’t flashy but he gets the job done.”
Last month, Griffey shot his first pro football game in Green Bay. “It was my first NFL game and it was cold, real cold. To go there, to what they call the frozen tundra, and have all the elements, it was something that I’ll never forget.”
“I also like photographing cars. I’m planning to photograph my airplane, my cars and my motorcycle in a hangar.”
What’s next? The College Football National Championship Game, Oregon vs Ohio State, on January 12th.
Ken’s Gear: Nikon D4, D4s, 14-24mm f2.8, 24-70mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8, 85mm f2.8 tilt/shift, 70-200mm f2.8, 400mm f2.8, 600mm f4.
Category: About You