When the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals walk into Citi Field on Saturday for Game 4 of the 2015 World Series, one photographer, Brad Mangin, will also be celebrating a milestone of his own: his 16th anniversary shooting the World Series for Major League Baseball.
Mangin, who started collaborating with the MLB in 1994 as a freelancer, has in recent years distinguished himself from the crowd of baseball photographers thanks to his Instagram account, where he posts photos shot with his iPhone.
The device, he says, has allowed him to shoot images he wouldn’t dream of taking otherwise. Take his portrait of the Mets slugger Yoenis Cespedes sitting on a basket of baseballs, shot ahead of Game 1 earlier this week, “I wasn’t working that day, so I went to the ballpark with my credential and just my phone,” he says. “Usually, before a big game, I’d be shooting with my DSLR and I wouldn’t be able to get a good fleeting moment like that.”
Mangin started using the iPhone in 2011. “I immediately fell in love with the special effects and social-networking aspect of working with Instagram,” he wrote in 2012 after Sports Illustrated published 18 of his Instagram photos in the magazine. “I felt like I was shooting baseball for the first time ever, through the lens of my iPhone and the square format of Instagram.”
For a long time, he says, some of his colleagues would argue that those images accounted for nothing and that he ran the risk of seeing his photos being ripped off and used without his permission. Now, they sing a different tune, especially considering that many photo editors now regularly use the social-media tool to find new talent. Mangin has, over the years, built a following of 66,000. In 2013, he published Instant Baseball, his fourth book and the first to focus solely on his Instagram work.
But Instagram’s not the only thing that’s new since Mangin first started covering the World Series. “In 2000, we were still shooting film,” he says. “And then there was this lab in Florida called Dale Labs. It was well known by sport photographers. So we would shoot color negative film and overnight it on a plane to that lab in Hollywood, Florida. They would develop your C-41 and at the same time make a sets of chrome dupes we could send to different clients.”
Today, especially during big games like the championships and the World Series, Mangin’s camera is tethered to a computer, with his selects automatically transferred to a team of photo editors. Within minutes, his photos will appear on MLB’s various websites, including its At Bat phone app and social channels.