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Photos, baseball come together for Cuddyer

Photos, baseball come together for Cuddyer

Photos, baseball come together for Cuddyer
On any given road trip, Michael Cuddyer may bring four or five gloves along with him to be prepared to play any of the six different defensive positions he has played in his career.

In his 11th season with the Twins, Cuddyer has added something else to his bag this year -- a brand new Canon EOS 60D digital SLR camera.

During the offseason, Cuddyer saw some pictures his brother-in-law had taken at a beach house, with some picturesque sunrises and sunsets, and it got him thinking.

"We've got some great access to some pretty cool places in this country that people pay to go to, and we get to go to them every day for free," Cuddyer said. "So I thought, 'Why not just start taking shots of them, pictures to kind of chronicle our season on the road and be able to make something like a coffee book at the end of the year for family members?'"

Cuddyer started doing his homework. He read up on photography and researched cameras after Thanksgiving.

He didn't want to just take the average vacation pictures taken by most amateur photographers and posted online for friends and family to see. Cuddyer wanted his photos to look good; he wanted something he could be proud of, and that his family would be impressed by if he printed them out and gave them as gifts.

"I'm the type that if I'm going to do something, I want to do it the right way. I didn't want to just take snapshots of stuff," Cuddyer said. "I wanted to, first of all, learn how to take pictures, and I'm still learning every day. I wanted to learn how to use a camera and how to make cool effects and stuff like that, and apply it to the stadiums."

Cuddyer kept studying through the end of Spring Training, when he finally settled on a camera and lenses to purchase. His wife bought it for his birthday -- Cuddyer turned 32 on March 27 -- just in time for the start of the regular season.

The Twins traveled north of the border for Opening Day to Toronto, which turned out to be an excellent location for Cuddyer to test out his new camera. He liked the results that first weekend of the season, especially with the pictures he took of the skyline just before sunset.

From Toronto, the Twins went to New York, giving Cuddyer another excellent opportunity. Minnesota has traveled to five other cities already this season, and Cuddyer has photographed three of them: St. Petersburg, Baltimore and Boston.

While the Twins also took trips to Kansas City and Chicago, the trips were short and the weather did not make for good photos. Knowing he'd be back to both cities, Cuddyer saved those two for another time.

"I think as I've gotten better, the pictures have definitely gotten better," Cuddyer said. "I really like the skyline I've taken of Toronto, at night as the sun was going down and the lights are starting to come on, which I thought was pretty cool.

"I took one, with the baseball and the warehouse blurred out in the background in Baltimore; I thought that was a good one, too. I just like looking at the stadiums; they're some of the most awesome places in the country that have ever been built."

In addition to doing his homework on how to take photos, Cuddyer has been studying the Twins' travel schedule and scouting interesting backdrops for his project. His hope is to take photos of every stadium the Twins play in, while also getting shots of the city when his family is not with him.

On the club's next road trip, he's hoping for some good shots of Oakland/San Francisco and Seattle, though he won't have a lot of time with just two games against both the Mariners and the A's.

"That's the big thing -- I have very, very little time for photography. Very, very little," Cuddyer said. "I get out for maybe an hour and take all these pictures of the stadium in that time. Then I get back to concentrating and focusing on the game."

Cuddyer is sharing his photos with more people than just his family, too.

Shortly after getting his camera, Cuddyer opened up a Flickr account where he can share the photos digitally with fans. They've been popular, too, with nearly every photo on his account having been viewed 500 or more times, and some more than 1,000 views.

This week, Cuddyer had a few of his favorites printed out, which he plans to sign and give away to fans.

"I just got these prints made to see what it looked like, see if I had the right colors and stuff like that," Cuddyer said. "I really like the way they turned out, so maybe I'll sign them and we do a bunch of charity auctions and stuff throughout the year, so maybe we'll auction some off and some people will like it."

As he balances his time between a new hobby and his profession, Cuddyer even sees some similarities between baseball and photography, particularly with the work involved.

Cuddyer said both take a lot of studying, comparing the video and scouting reports he uses in baseball to the research and scouting he does to find good locations for taking photos. In both, preparation is important for success.

Now that he's developed his photography skills, does Cuddyer see a future for himself in profession after baseball?

"As a hobby, a personal hobby," Cuddyer said. "I don't think I'll be doing it as a profession or anything like that. I think it's definitely something that I have a passion for. I always felt like in my head I was artistic, but I could never draw, I could never paint, I could never put what I saw in my head on paper. I think taking pictures is a way for me to do that."

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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