A Baseball Life Through the Lens

By on October 23, 2018
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He started out the same as many kids his age growing up in the 70s as 9-10-11 year olds, collecting baseball cards. But Joe Territo looked at the cards differently than his friends did. “All my friends were interested in the back of the card, reading and studying the stats. I liked the pictures, I was drawn to the pictures, not because I liked the way the player looked, it was the whole picture and how it was composed. I was always drawn to sports pictures. I used to cut them out from Sports Illustrated and hang them on my wall. I chose the pictures, not because I liked the player, but because I liked the picture. That is when as a child I started to develop my eye for photographs and sports imaging,” Territo said. 

For the past seven seasons life-long Greece resident and Olympia High School graduate Joe Territo has been the team photographer for the Rochester Red Wings. Territo has always been a Red Wings fan. His dad took him to the games at the old Silver Stadium on Norton Street when he was growing up. As a kid team picture day was his favorite game day. “As soon as I got the picture I would sit in the stands and study it and memorize the players. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would one day be taking the team picture and watching kids in the stands studying my photograph of the team,” Territo said.

In 1983 Territo’s girlfriend, now wife, Kim, bought him a 35mm camera for Christmas. “I became obsessed with hockey. I used to sneak down to the press area without a press pass and take pictures until the usher kicked me out,” he said.

Early in his photography career Territo worked with a radiologist who became his mentor. The doctor encouraged him to take his photos to the next level. Territo said, “He told me my work was good. He told me I should approach the Amerks about being their team photographer. He wrote a proposal and encouraged me to take samples of my work and go to the appointment that was set up for me. I was in my twenties with no confidence. When I showed the Amerks my photos they liked them. They hired me, and that was the day I became a professional photographer.”

Territo got the job as team photographer for the Red Wings as a result of some studio photography work he did for the team in the past. One of his pictures was chosen for the cover of their program. He was approached by a team staff member and asked if he would be able to do action photos for the team. With his past experience with the Amerks, he felt he could do it. “I was immediately accepted into the Red Wings family and felt very welcome. The team actually became my second family and I consider Red Wings stadium my summer home. I just love being there,” he said.

Territo’s first season with the Red Wings was 2012 and he had to decide his approach to documenting the team’s season. “The Red Wings allow a lot of freedom on how I do the job. I see the freedom as a compliment to the respect they have for my work,” Territo said. His approach is to keep his eye on all the action going on in the stadium during the game. “I cannot observe like a fan. I have to look at it as a focus on the pictures, I can’t get caught up in the game. I have to keep cool to catch the moment and have to stay focused.” 

One of Territo’s favorite photography techniques is known as Composition Vignetting, described as the play of light and paying attention to the details of light and dark within the image. This approach to composition contributes to the artistic quality of the photo.

Through the years Territo worked as an orderly, as an X-Ray technician and as a surgical technician at Park Ridge Hospital, all the while pursuing photography. Currently he works as an Ophthalmic photographer specializing in diseases of the retina.

Territo is also President of the Rochester Baseball Historical Society. RBHS began in 2007 and is an educational organization dedicated to the preservation, research and dissemination of the baseball history of greater Rochester.

Territo’s Award Winning photography career spans over 30 years as a professional photographer. Here are some of his favorite pictures as team photographer for the Rochester Red Wings. For more on Joe Territo visit www.joeterritophotography.com

Joe Territo in front of Frontier Field holding his award winning photo,

Joe Territo in front of Frontier Field holding his award winning photo. Photo by Karen Fien

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This photo is of a young fan watching the ball go over the fence. Territo said, “There is so much going on during a baseball game. The reactions of the fans also tells a story. I look into the stands for the emotions. It is all about the emotions, I like to capture that. Most every human emotion is shown during a baseball game. This picture is also about the reactions the boys in the background are showing.”

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“This is a very special photo taken of Tommy Field during the 2016 season. It was the last game of the year and the Red Wings didn’t make the playoffs. It is a metaphor for the entire season. They had a great record that year but they just missed the mark, like the player just missing the catch in this picture,” Territo said. This photograph was nominated for the Minor League Baseball Photo of the Year. The picture received the 2nd Place award and was featured on a huge billboard in Rochester in 2017 and again 2018.

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This black and white photo taken in 2015 is one Territo thought about a lot before taking it. He said, “I had this picture in mind for a year or two before I actually shot it. I planned it in my mind. We all get inspiration from other people’s work. Here Diaz is just going to work, carrying his equipment, ready to take his place on the field.”

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This is a picture of a walk-off home run during the 2015 season. A walk-off home run is described as a home run that ends the game. It must be a home run that gives the home team the lead (and consequently, the win) in the bottom of the final inning of the game. Thus the losing team (the visiting team) must then “walk off” the field immediately afterward. Territo said, “This is the celebration of Josmil Pinto’s walk-off home run at home plate with his team mates. It was during the first game of the season. The Red Wings had 10 walk-off home runs during the 2015 season.”  

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This picture of Zack Granite is an example of peak action, the ultimate in sports photography. Territo said, “I love shooting from a high angle onto the field. I always consider the background in these action pictures. I don’t want any confusion that comes with things going on in the background. I isolate the subject and feel the green with the bright red of the uniform creates a beautiful picture.”

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This is not a common photographic perspective of Red Wings Stadium. For this picture Territo went to the top of the Kodak Tower. He said, “You usually don’t see the stadium from this view. I was very fortunate to be given access to the roof of the Kodak building. While I was there I got to see George Eastman’s office on the top floor. That was a very exciting moment for me.”