In the world of sports, Ken Griffey Jr. (@therealkengriffeyjr) is a living legend known for his remarkable achievements on the baseball field. However, there's another side to Griffey that has been capturing the attention of many: his passion for photography. In an exclusive interview, Griffey shared insights into his journey as a photographer, emphasizing the lifelong learning experience and the profound impact of community in the world of photography.
Photo by Ken Griffey Jr. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/2500-sec., f/2.8, ISO 250
From The Hall of Fame To The Sidelines
Griffey's journey into photography took off after his career in baseball, and as he delved into it, he’s gone all in. "It's fun,” he says. “It's exciting. I wish I would've done it earlier." This sentiment resonates with many who discover the joy of photography, realizing its timeless nature. Griffey emphasizes that photography is not bound by age, stating, "It's something that you can do from age 11 to 95, and you're constantly learning."
For Griffey, the transition from using a Nikon SLR and a bulky telephoto zoom to the Sony Alpha system, wasn’t entirely smooth. "I started out with a Nikon film SLR and I still have my 100 to 300 that feels like it's 30 pounds now.” From a Nikon SLR to a DSLR, Griffey embraced new technology while remaining cautious about straying too far from what he was comfortable with. "My thing is if it’s not broken, don't fix it."
That sentiment doesn’t just pertain to photography for Griffey. He draws parallels between his approach to photography gear and his commitment to using the same bat and glove throughout his baseball career. “When I switched to Nike, I had them make my gloves from the same leather that I had been using before. If it’s not broken…” However, a pivotal moment occurred when a fellow photographer introduced him to a Sony mirrorless camera. Griffey recalls "Immediately I thought 'Oh, my.' Because what I was seeing in the viewfinder, was how the image came out. And after that, I was hooked." The shift to Sony opened new possibilities.
The Importance Of Community In Sports & Photography
The other key aspect of Griffey’s move to Sony had nothing to do with the gear. It was the value of community. Drawing parallels between the camaraderie in sports and the collaborative spirit among photographers, Griffey spoke about his recent trip to Africa where on a photo safari with Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo, among others. Talking about the fast-paced world of wildlife photography, he marveled at the efficiency of his fellow photography companions. "I was really mind-blown about how fast things go and how fast they work, and how fast and how efficient they were." Griffey compared the experience to his baseball days and how photographing wildlife demanded the same focus on the present moment as being at the plate on the baseball field.
It's not every day one of the greatest athletes in the history of sports is seen among the general attendees of an experiential event for enthusiasts, but that’s what happened at Sony Creative Space in the fall of 2023. For Ken Griffey Jr., photography is a journey of perpetual learning and he went to Creative Space to learn about the latest Sony camera and lens (the Alpha 9 III and the 300mm f/2.8 G Master) as well as to learn from fellow photographers. "It's a constant learning and constant wanting to improve,” he says. "I don't think that baseball players or photographers are ever really satisfied with what they do," he says. “The pursuit of excellence fuels both disciplines.”
Photo by Ken Griffey Jr. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/6400-sec., f/2.8, ISO 100
At Creative Space Griffey was immersed in a world driven by a relentless pursuit of improvement. Among his many skills, Griffey is also a licensed pilot. Drawing a connection between flying and photography, he emphasizes the importance of watching and learning from experienced individuals. "People think you learn a lot by shooting,” he says. “You actually learn more by watching somebody over the top of their shoulder."
A Sony Alpha Kit For The Kid
Fresh from his epic trek to Africa, Griffey is already planning his next photo adventure. With a kit that includes the Sony Alpha 1 (and, he says, will soon include the Alpha 9 III), his lens quiver consists of the Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master, 70-200mm f/2.8 G Master, 135mm f/1.8 G Master, 85mm f/1.4 G Master, 24-70mm f/1.4 G Master, 24-105mm f/4 G and the 16-35mm f/2.8 G Master. It’s a kit that’s built to be ready for anything from the sidelines of the NCAA National Championship game to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan.
Photo by Ken Griffey Jr. Sony Alpha 1. Sony 400mm f/2.8 G Master. 1/1250-sec., f/2.8, ISO 125
Follow Griffey's journey on Instagram @therealkengriffeyjr.