Jean Fruth on Being a Woman in Sports Photography | Groundbreaking Women


FRUTH: International Women’s Day means different things to different people, but what ties it all together is women coming together and uniting for equality. I think it’s also important to celebrate for International Women’s Day Celebrate all the incredible achievements that women have already made in all of those arenas. [inspirational music] My name is Jean Fruth. I’m a sports photographer, specializing in documenting the game of baseball from the grassroots to the major leagues. I actually got started in portrait photography. I worked with two women Uh, portrait photographers who took me under their wing, and I was able to go on shoots with them and work with clients. It wasn’t the photography I intended to do. I really didn’t know what my direction was with my photography at that time. But it was a great way to get started with these women. It was all film. Black-and-white. I, uh, developed and printed all their work in their darkroom and eventually had my own and… And while I was doing that I was also exploring where I wanted to go with my photography. So I was working, I was taking classes. I was working with–I worked with a wedding photographer, a landscape photographer. And eventually, the opportunity of sports presented itself, and when it did I never looked back. It was so immediate that that was my passion And that’s where I needed to be, and then it was “how do I get there?” And “how do I make this my photography and my path?” [music continues] Especially when you get started and you’re the new kid on the block–whether you’re a guy or a girl– But surely when you’re a female and, like, you get started. And it’s interesting because it’s just, like, the West Coast was a little bit more love peace and happiness, honestly. And I come from the East Coast, and so the mellow vibe of the photographers on the west coast was actually very nice because it’s a little bit more of a gentle landing. You know, they may have their opinions, but the politeness, and they will help you at the end of the day. And I found that, if you reach out, and you ask for a piece of advice like I think it helps break the ice, and then they feel like they’re helping you now. You have a new friend and that helps you, but there were some ornery ones who you know, “what are you doing here?” And you just kind of ignore those and eventually they come around and if they don’t, they don’t, you know There’s plenty of room on the sidelines for everybody. You know, it’s just, uh… And then your work speaks for itself eventually, you know. I mean, you get the work out there and Anybody can say what you want to say, but eventually, you can’t hide and then the work is there. And then it’s like “oh, okay! Well that speaks for itself.” And, you know, as the baseball players say “let your bat to the talking.” [laughs] [music] I love sports, but I didn’t play them. I loved baseball. I did coach my son’s little league team and had a tremendous joy from that, which is where the grass roots and the love of grass roots started and came from but… The excitement and the thrill of a sports game– –it really didn’t matter to me, if I was going to a Little League game or to the World Series. Like the same feeling and excitement, and I have that same exact passion of feeling so alive when I’m going to a game and it’s The energy and the adrenaline and “what, what’s gonna happen?” [laughs] I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great experiences for sure, um… Working with the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and being able to add to their archives and grow their archives and also give them a contemporary voice was very fulfilling to me. Probably what I’m most proud of is my grass roots baseball project, you know. It started off as a book–Grassroots Baseball Where Legends Begin– and then it grew into this whole initiative. When I was traveling around the world, and when I still travel around the world, shooting the professional game, I always take time to shoot the amateur game, the grassroots game. And, if I’m in Japan shooting the World Baseball Classic, I’ll take time to peel off and shoot a little league game in Tokyo or shoot a pickup game in the Dominican Republic, street baseball in Cuba, sand lots in Mexico, old guys playing stickball on the streets of New York City, and that collection of photographs really never seen before! And during my tenure with the Baseball Hall of Fame I got to know a lot of the Hall of Famers and do projects with them, and take their portrait, and hear their stories of what it was like growing up in these regions. And then have the idea of “what if I pair this amateur baseball around the world with these legends, and they can tell their stories of what it was like growing up?” And that’s how Grassroots Baseball Where Legends began came about. And it’s 15 chapters around the world, and each chapter opens with a legend who tells his story about growing up in that region, and his young of baseball, and it’s guys like Vladimir Guerrero and Hank Aaron and, Cal Ripken Jr. writes the introduction, and Johnny Bench writes the afterword and Whitey Ford for New York City. [music] Why it’s important to celebrate International Women’s Day. So when we celebrate… I think also recognizing those who have made great efforts to support women. So all of those things. Recognition, celebration, call for action. And I would say, for recognition, Sony is a I think a wonderful example and a leader in supporting women in our craft. That’s important I mean the creator and residents program, you know, just shows with a little support and opening some doors professional women can, who have dedicated their lives to a career in photography, a career in filmmaking, they can rise to, you know, the top of their game, you know and be at the top level with that support, you know And that’s what’s important is these professional women raising up and being able to have the opportunity, and I think when you have leaders like that it’s, it’s far more reaching than just one program. It’s, uh… When we come together for something like International Women’s Day and you see leaders like Sony doing what they’re doing. The hope is other companies also then want to do that same thing whether companies in our industry or in other industries, and they see this powerful example, and they follow suit and then you have something [music] By and large, I have been really fortunate to–and I continue to be fortunate–to.. uh, have an experience, very positive very nurturing. My mentors, who were so generous with their time and with their experience and with their guidance, they are really my lifelong friends now, and among them, and the community of photographers that I have grown to know, I’ve really, um… learned that giving back in the community that you live in and that you work in is most important.

4 Replies to “Jean Fruth on Being a Woman in Sports Photography | Groundbreaking Women

  1. Lovely. I Subscribe your channel. If you like mine subscribe too. Regards from Cyprus

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