I got sent off the other day to do a little human interest
story on a local outfit that works with impaired adults and has put together a
softball league for them. The idea is that getting to play softball helps the
ones who are physically limited to get them some exercise and for the mentally
challenged to learn to interact with others. They don’t keep score or any of
that as the game is an excuse for them to not be shut in physically or
As I once was on track to become a psychologist the whole experience
was interesting for me as I don’t have that much interaction with folks like
them. I am far more often photographing people who have accomplished a whole
lot but in a way I’m still dealing with people who are in one way or the other
kinda fragile. I like that. Our personal frailties are much of what makes us
There were four teams playing that day but I stuck to a few
individuals in one game because I was able to see some kind of story within
each player. Each player had a helper, sometimes a family member, who was
helping them either move around the field or maybe stay focused, get out of
their shell and, say, field the ball. There some nice quiet things going on.
Definitely not a sporting event in any normal sense. I would like to maybe do a
multimedia piece on them because there was some wonderful interaction that the
camera doesn’t do justice. Sound would really help you hear the love in the
tone of voice that a father used to help his son pay attention to the game rather
than to retreat within himself. I found it pretty moving.
But my favorite shot is this one.
Autumn, at right, is almost totally blind and also mentally challenged.
She has a long standing relationship with her helper Taylor and they were
whispering and giggling the whole game like the best of friends or maybe with the
kind of closeness that only sisters know. I noticed that a few times
would blow onto Autumn’s palm and it apparently tickled because Autumn would
get this blissful look and then start to laugh. The next time they did that I
just quietly walked up, held my camera very low with it pointed up at them and
the sky. The fact that they were playing softball didn’t mean anything. It was
about their interaction, their relationship and how when they were together
like that they seemed to be in their own beautiful world.