Nobody expected the Phillies to embark on their improbable postseason run. As Philadelphia-based MLB photographer Heather Barry put it, “It felt like a fever dream.”
Primarily assigned to cover the visiting team during Phils’ home games, this was Barry’s first Red October experience — and it was intense.
Instead of reporting to Citizens Bank Park four hours prior to game time, she’d get there 7 to 8 hours ahead of first pitch. Team arrivals, players’ wardrobe choices, and pregame festivities were all must-shoot for the photography crew. While the pace could get frantic, she said, it was also a thrill.
“This season has been so much fun,” Barry said. “I feel like everybody [is photogenic]. Stott, Bohm, once they started to really get hot and pick up, this ballpark and the club exploded with having a good time.”
Which Phillie is the most fun to shoot? “Bryce Harper. I mean, obviously.”
Barry had the opportunity to travel with the club to Houston to shoot her first-ever World Series. It’s the largest sporting event she’s photographed thus far.
“The biggest thing career-wise is networking with all of the national photographers that come in for this event,” Barry said. “Men and women I see probably once a year, if that.”
Returning to Philadelphia from covering Games 1 and 2 — following a delayed flight that saw her stay in a luxurious hotel — she photographed Games 3, 4, and 5 at home. Now that baseball season has concluded, she’ll go back to photographing the Flyers.
Hockey is where the Florida native got her start. It was 2011, and the Philadelphia Flyers were playing the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.
Barry shot warm-ups, and — though she calls all of her photos from that first foray into sports “terrible” — got hooked on the challenge. Prior to that, she’d considered photography a hobby, but the experience of capturing live sports changed her mind.
“I was like, ‘OK, this is really hard to shoot.’ This isn’t like shooting still stuff, like front doors of houses,” Barry explained. “I kind of just really got into covering hockey at first, and then I thought, ‘Okay, this is a serious passion.'”
She purposely began to network with people in Philadelphia, finding the region had more opportunity for working media than her home state of Florida.
After shooting hockey and a couple of other paid gigs here and there — some soccer and basketball — she felt like she needed to do something to expand her horizons. A photographer she worked with told Barry they were looking for some help at Major League Baseball. She started to freelance in 2018, and officially began working with MLB in 2020.
The game is much slower-paced than hockey. Barry noted, which leaves more time to “make” creative photos that capture the atmosphere and overall scene.
“Sometimes I like to do the sights and the visuals of the ballpark,” Barry said. “I love sunset chasing, so if I see a sunset coming through, I’m that person that sprints up the 400 level and will sit there and watch.”
Barry began to feel the magic of this year’s Phillies team following their 2-0 National League Wild Card Series win against the St. Louis Cardinals, which advanced them to the NLDS.
“We could really do this,” she remembers thinking. “They were hot at home, the bats were hot, they were having fun.”
Now that baseball is over, Barry is back to Flyers duty. She’ll be at the Wells Fargo Center for most home games, as well as some off-ice events, such as Casino Night on Jan. 12, and the Flyers Wives Carnival on March 26. She’ll also serve as a photographer for Philadelphia’s professional lacrosse team, the Wings, whose season begins Dec. 2.
“Moving forward, the goal is to freelance full-time and hone the craft,” Barry said. “That might include some more remote editing, or shooting some college sports. … And just improving as I move along.”
Although the Phillies’ playoff run didn’t end with a parade down Broad Street, it left the city with some incredible memories.
“I was not expecting them to advance so far,” Barry said of this year’s team, “having so much fun — and being themselves doing it.”