Major League Photos
Academy of Art University M.FA. photography alumna Ariele Hecht graduated in 2003, and thanks to her dedicated freelance work, as well as being in the right place at the right time, she now works as a photographer for the New York Yankees.
While Hecht was at the Academy, digital film was still in its infancy, and she did not actually use a digital camera until after she graduated.
“Truth be told,” said Hecht, “I thought I would never go digital, unfortunately or fortunately, that sentiment was short lived, as now I can’t imagine not using a digital camera.”
When Hecht began her studies at the Academy, she was “finally able to take classes and be educated about photography and talk to people about the things that I couldn’t answer on my own. It was also nice to kind of take a step back to the beginning of my photography roots and relearn the fundamentals of the medium. Those classes and education were priceless in my photo career.” It was this, plus the experience of “just doing” that helped prepare her for success in the photography world.
Having gone straight from undergrad to grad school, once she had received her M.F.A., Hecht took six months off to travel and decide where she wanted to live.
“When I did start to look, it wasn’t easy. I was looking for a very specific job and wasn’t going to settle for just any job,” said Hecht. Just under a year after graduation, she left her home of Chicago to move to New York City and search for opportunities.
Freelancing helped Hecht get into her current position, as she shot a couple of Yankees games for the team’s publications department during grad school.
“When I moved to NYC, I let the head of the department know I had made the move and if there was an opportunity to do more freelance work for the team, I was available.” They took her up on the offer and six months later, when a writer quit, she was hired in their place as a full-time photo editor. “I literally was in the right place at the right time,” she said.
As the only staff photographer, Hecht oversees all the Yankees’ photo needs on a daily basis.
“During the season,” she said, “I am photographing the games, press conferences, portraits, non-baseball events and really everything Yankees-related. I also am constantly editing my photos to run in Yankees Magazine, the official magazine of the New York Yankees.” She has also created a digital archive of all current and historical Yankees images.
As well as the busy days and varied workload, Hecht has to contend with “being a female in a male-dominated industry,” as well as “keeping up with the technology that is constantly changing the way we see and use photography.” With a fast-paced job like this, Hecht recognizes the importance of finding a balance between work and family life.
“I just had my second daughter in April, and baseball is a long season. So I make sure to shut off my work mode when I leave the stadium.”
Thanks to hard work and perseverance, Hecht has found a job that plays to her strengths and keeps her busy.
“I like that every day is different,” she said. “The people I meet along the way are pretty incredible. Witnessing history first-hand from a front-row seat is pretty remarkable, too.”