By DON O'BRIENHerald-Whig Staff Writer
Taylor Baucom doesn't remember when she took up photography, but she recalls being given the family camera to keep her busy while her older siblings were playing sports.
Little did she know at the time, but that was merely a prelude for her future.
Baucom has gone from taking photos at dusty ballfields in and around her native Camp Point to snapping shots earlier this month of New York Yankees star Derek Jeter at Major League Baseball's All-Star Game.
Not too bad for someone who didn't take her first true photography class until she reached graduate school at Syracuse University in New York two years ago. Baucom, 26, is serving as an intern for Major League Baseball Properties this summer. Her job recently took her to Minneapolis, site of the 2014 All-Star Game.
"As exciting as it was, I had a job to do," Baucom, 26, said of her All-Star Game experience. "I was very much focused on being able to do my job the best that I could do. But there were times when I had to stop and tell myself, ‘You're at the All-Star Game.' You can get wrapped up in it. I realized where I was and let it soak in a little bit."
A Central High School graduate, Baucom never took a photography class in high school because it wasn't offered. Work on the school's yearbook was the only experience Baucom could get. She didn't get to take any photography-specific courses at Illinois College, where she earned a double major in psychology and communications. She was able to gain some experience by working in the school's public relations department.
After graduating from the Jacksonville school, Baucom entered graduate school at Syracuse, which boasts one of the best communications programs in the country. She studied multimedia photography and design. Once she defends her thesis, she'll have her master's degree.
Her path has taken her from living in tiny Camp Point (population 1,132) to staying in Brooklyn, the biggest of New York City's five boroughs with 2.6 million people. She spent time at home before going to the All-Star Game last month.
"I told my friends in New York that I couldn't wait to walk barefoot outside and not have to worry about catching anything," Baucom said with a laugh. "This has been a great experience. New York City is a different change of pace, but my roots are back here. It felt good to come home and breathe some fresh air."
Baucom has spent part of her time in New York City photographing the happenings at MLB's Fan Cave in Greenwich Village. It's a space where players come to talk baseball, mix with music stars and have fun.
Baucom's primary focus at the All-Star Game was shooting photos for People magazine's All-Star Teachers campaign. Thirty teachers -- one representing each MLB team -- were honored by MLB for their work in the classroom. Baucom documented their time on the big stage, which included pregame recognition on the field.
Even though she hasn't shot much game action with MLB, Baucom said she would like to stay involved in sports photography.
"I enjoy the atmosphere and excitement that comes with shooting game action, although I have much more of a connection to photographing the feature side of sports," Baucom said. "I'm really enjoying my time at MLB and plan to continue working in the sports industry. Hopefully, the goal is to work with a team and get back to the Midwest."