Three weeks ago I decided to take a rare break, steep some tea and watch a documentary film that a close friend of mine suggested. I’ve noticed that because of my wide range of interests and appreciation for all forms of creation, my friends and family are constantly sending me recommendations and inspiration. I love it — it makes my walk to the mailbox an anticipated activity.
This particular documentary “Finding Vivian Maier” told the story of a mysterious street photographer that lived a very secret artistic life in Chicago during the mid 1900’s. With no existing records of living family, Vivian Maier spent her days working as a nanny for wealthy families living in the Chicago suburbs. Through interviews with the families she worked for you get a look into the overly active and most times socially awkward behavior of this creative mind. Once she was finished with work as a nanny she would head out on field trips on her bicycle alone, armed with a Rolliflex camera. It was a great film and her photos are absolutely incredible.
I have always loved street photography. It has a heartbeat and a natural element that really gives you a feeling of understanding and a strong sense of the moment. So needless to say, after viewing the film my mind has been swirling with photography concepts and ideas. This led me to do some research within the lacrosse community to see if there was anyone out there that was riding this wave. Easily the best part of my work here at Powell is the ability to shine light on people that are doing cool things within our community and support their endeavors. It’s no secret that I have major respect for artists and the process. This particular week led me to the California coast to learn more about a lacrosse playing photographer by the name of Mikey Diggs.
His name had come up while I was talking with a friend in LA and they said, “there’s a young photographer out here that loves lacrosse and is starting to take some interesting photos.” So I went to his website and started to sift through his work and really liked his composition. You could tell that he has a deep admiration for natural beauty and a respect for mother nature. I love that. His landscape portraits in particular are interesting and evoke strong emotions like good pictures do. For example his “Windswept” photo immediately puts me behind the windshield, gives me a sense of freedom and brings me right back to my early 20’s traveling the American west singing my songs in folk houses.
I wrote him a note to let him know that I liked what he was doing and give him my support. I love lacrosse and I love art. Anytime that I can connect with like-minded people, I jump on it. He wrote back with a very thoughtful note and offered to pass along one of his prints that I could hang in the Woodshop. I was impressed with this respectful gesture and decided right then that I needed to learn more about his background as a player and artist. So I asked some general questions, sent him the stick of his choice and he sent back all of the wonderful pictures you see here in this article.
Can you describe your first impressions of lacrosse?
MD: Even as a Maryland native, I didn’t know what lacrosse was until I was in the fifth grade. My best friend tried to get me to switch over from baseball all year. His mom even brought me to a game of his. I was confused by it at first, but I decided that I would probably be good at it. The final push came when he and his parents gifted me my first lacrosse stick for my 11th birthday – a black Warrior Patriot with soft mesh on a white Alloy 2000. He and I played catch every day for months leading up to my first season. I didn’t get totally hooked until I took my first shot in my first game in sixth grade. I completely missed, but something about it just lit my soul on fire, and I never looked back. That was in 2002.
What do you love most about lacrosse?
MD: I love the freedom. I grew up playing football too – football is very exact in what you have to do on each play. When I started playing, I instantly loved how lacrosse was the opposite of that – it’s free-flowing. It’s just about finding a way to put the ball in the net. I love how fast and physical lacrosse is, but the stick is the most beautiful part of the game. I grew to love everything about it – from throwing the perfect pass or zinging one past the keeper, to knocking the stick out of another guy’s hands using your own. Master the stick, and you have a place in the game.
MD: I’ve always had an appreciation for a good photo, even as a kid. I loved how a moment in time could be captured and looked back on for years and years. I was the middle schooler that loved buying disposable cameras and bringing them to school. I didn’t really start to enjoy photography as an art form until one of my high school buddies I went on vacation with to Hawaii after we graduated was taking all of these crazy nice photos of me and our other friends that brought us on the trip. He was capturing scenery, great moments, emotions, everything – and doing it so effortlessly. It opened my eyes to what you can do with a camera. I watched him shoot for many years and many vacations. Fast forward six years, and I finally bought one of my own. Needless to say, I got pretty deep into it pretty quickly. It’s already caught up to lacrosse as far as passions go, in just over a year.
Where did your playing days start and where do you play now?
MD: I grew up playing lacrosse in my hometown of Damascus, Maryland. When I turned 16, my family and I moved to San Diego, where I finished my high school days. Then I played DIII lacrosse at Saint Vincent College in Pennsylvania, finishing up in 2012. Now I play for San Diego Lacrosse Club here in California and coach at my alma mater, Rancho Bernardo High School. The San Diego lacrosse community is really unique, and I’m very proud to be a part of it’s growth. These kids can ball with the best of them, there’s no doubt about that anymore.
MD: I’m a career two-way midfielder. I’ve never played any other position. My coaches wouldn’t let me, and they were always right in doing so. I feel like I would be a fantastic goalie if I got some training, though. I have quick hands and a good eye for the ball.
Thanks so much for taking on this fun little project. It’s been great to work with you and see you combine your photographic eye with the sport. Did you have fun with it?
MD: This project has been really, really fun to work on. I’m just trying to let my photographic style coincide with my personality as a lacrosse player and fan. Through these photos, I’m trying to convey everything that I think lacrosse should always be – creative, fun, tough, artistic and passionate. My vision is to bring lacrosse to the viewer both as they’ve always seen it and as they’ve never seen it. The lacrosse junkie sees lacrosse everywhere in their minds, but rarely so with their eyes.
What does the future look like?
MD: I want to go wherever my camera takes me. I really love landscapes of all sorts, and I like printing my shots on canvas to hang on people’s walls. I could see myself doing product or promo shoots for companies as well, as long as it’s a product I believe in. I also really enjoy taking photos of people, both posed and candid. I’ve done everything from weddings to product shoots for library store merchandise. Photography has become a big part of me and I’m really excited for whatever is next, because the journey has yet to disappoint!
Do you think there is a relationship between lacrosse and artistic expression?
MD: There’s a direct link between lacrosse and artistic expression. From the tangible variations of sticks, uniforms and equipment, to the way that everyone has their own individual style of play, art is saturated in the DNA of lacrosse. It’s another thing I’ve always loved about it. You can have a hard-nosed midfielder work in perfect tandem with a lightning-quick attackman and score a million goals a game, or have a lineup of defensemen who rely on tact instead of strength and shut an opponent out. A successful “style” of lacrosse is just as subjective as a successful “style” of painting, or dancing, or filmmaking. It is what we make it, and it’s a beautiful thing.
I would like to thank Mikey Diggs for taking on this fun little creative project and wish him nothing but the very best in all of his future endeavors. He is a tremendous representative and ambassador for our sport and clearly has a deep love for it. I look forward to witnessing his growth as an artist. Like I always say, the lacrosse community is filled with such a wonderful group of talented, life-loving people. I’m honored to be a part of it and I am looking forward to the continuation of Field Exploration and uncovering more of the untold stories of lacrosse.