“I always knew I wanted to make work around baseball but I just never knew what it would be until I moved back to Tucson, Arizona,” photographer Cassidy Araiza tells It’s Nice That. “I grew up playing baseball in the desert and developed a strong love for the game. I have always thought that Tucson was a baseball players’ paradise as it stays warm all year around and has some of the best light during evening games.” As it turned out, Cassidy’s intention materialised through photography. In his latest series, inspired by his nephew’s sports enthusiasm, the artist captures the subtle interactions that take place during a children’s baseball game.
Cassidy first got interested in photography during high school when he received a 35mm camera and started taking pictures of his friends who were part of Tucson’s punk scene in the early 2000s. Two decades later and Cassidy has mastered the craft. Filled with soft lighting and warm tones, his baseball series hones in on the thrills and anticipations of the amateur team. “I wanted to shoot with medium format 160 film to lend a delicate look to my photographs,” the photographer says. Cassidy watched the team play and took notes of momentary exchanges and fleeting glances. He would then recreate these instances and cast them into intimate and authentic visual stories about youth, camaraderie and sportsmanship.
Earnest and engaging portraits are coupled with distant action shots of Tucson’s junior baseball league and offer perceptive insights into the young athletes’ passionate commitment. “The overview shots contextualise the world that these photographs take place in, whereas the portraits draw the viewer in to feel like they are part of the team. The different shots represent a number of perspectives, whether it be a player, parent on the bleacher, or coach,” Cassidy explains. Cassidy’s baseball series is a coherent body of work with the multiple angles transforming the viewer from a passive observer to an active sports fan at the heart of the action.
Nostalgia permeates Cassidy’s baseball series through his use of immaculate, sun-kissed shots. “I wanted the light to evoke a dreamy feel that would liken the photos to idealised childhood flashbacks; I was able to do this by taking the bulk of my photographs during golden hour. As I used natural light, I knew shadows would inevitably appear in my photos. I decided to use these shadows to my benefit by incorporating them into my characters, for example in the dugout photos where the shadows are cast over the faces of the players.” This nostalgia is what ultimately stays with the viewer; the youthful faces and romantic colours evoke an affection for the sport even to those who have yet to pick up a baseball bat.
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