Tabitha Soren’s Major League Photography

Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Guest, and Jeff Garlin react to a selection of the former MTV News correspondent's unpublished photographs capturing baseball in America.

Jamie Lee Curtis, Christopher Guest, and Jeff Garlin react to a selection of the former MTV News correspondent's unpublished photographs capturing baseball in America.

In 1999, Tabitha Soren ended a career in journalism to pursue one as a photographer. For a decade, she had worked opposite Kurt Loder as a reporter for MTV News, where she covered two election cycles and conducted incisive long-form interviews with the likes of Tupac Shakur and Axl Rose. (One such interview, with Mariah Carey—a modern classic with thousands of YouTube views—devolved into a cringe-inducing verbal spat with a meddlesome publicist.) Soren began photographing Major League Baseball draft picks in the early aughts, specifically young players from the Oakland Athletics, and continued to chronicle their respective careers and the culture of the game at large through various lenses. On April 1, Aperture is releasing Fantasy Life, a monograph aggregating this enormous collection of richly composed images, and to fête the occasion, Surface invited three personalities from Soren’s orbit—connoisseurs of photography and baseball—to offer their immediate, visceral reactions to her work.

The Players

Jamie Lee Curtis is an actress who has starred in films such as Halloween,A Fish Called Wanda, and True Lies. She currently stars opposite Emma Roberts on Ryan Murphy’s black-comedy TV series Scream Queens. Curtis is a collector of photography and has curated exhibitions for Saatchi Art and The Frostig Collection.

Jeff Garlin is an actor and writer best known for his roles on Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Goldbergs. He is an amateur photographer and Leica enthusiast. Finding Vivian Meier, a documentary he produced about a nanny living a double life as a street photographer, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2015.

Christopher Guest is the director of classic mockumentary films, including Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind, and the man who played rock ’n’ roll guitarist Nigel Tufnel in This is Spinal Tap. His latest film, Mascots, was released by Netflix last fall. Guest is an ardent fan of baseball.

The following works comprise a selection of photographs from Soren’s “Fantasy Life” series that have never before been published.

“Unique Tintype 0574” (2014)

Jamie Lee Curtis: “As the game is about pitching and hitting and catching and coming home, I was drawn to the hand leaving the bat. I assume the ball is soaring up and out of the park. It’s a perfect image of this perfect game of life.”

Jeff Garlin: “Could be a pop-up, could be a homer.”

Christopher Guest: “Home run … a momentary pose.”

“Mark Teahen” (2014)

Curtis: “Concentration. The very internal mechanism meeting the external response.”

Garlin: “I’m a ghost.”

Guest: “The work that never ends unseen.”

“Manifest Destiny” (2003)

Curtis: “Night games. I’m always taken with sporting events that take place at night—the invention of light that allows these activities to go on when the sun goes down. Whenever I see someone try to catch a fly ball at night, I always wonder how they don’t lose it in the light.”

Garlin: “Even in outer space they watch baseball.”

Guest: “We’re permitted to see the outfielder’s universe through his eyes.”

“Lloyd Turner Collage” (2006)

Curtis: “I see here the history of the game. The ball and the ballplayer. One cannot exist without the other. A historical portrait.”

Garlin: “Did this young man’s face cause the ball to disintegrate?”

Guest: “There is an old saying: ‘He knocked the cover off the ball.’
It could happen.”

“Lloyd Turner” (2006)

Curtis: “This image fills me with hope. There’s something about an athlete with the tool of their sport and their internal spirit and drive and joy that meets up in the confluence of an instant that excites me and brings me back for more.”

Garlin: “Baseball is fun when you don’t wear a shirt.”

Guest: “It will never get better than this.”

“Dawn At Spring Training” (2003)

Curtis: “The scale of a baseball field is put into beautiful perspective. Here’s the golden hour illuminating the possibilities of the game.”

Garlin: “In a few hours, even prettier.”

Guest: “Hope. A new day and another chance.”

“Mark Kiger Collage” (2005)

Curtis: “You get ‘up’ to bat. There’s a lot of waiting in baseball. The dugout is an appropriate name. Dug down. Waiting for your moment. Dirty.”

Garlin: “Those arms are too big for baseball.”

Guest: “Besides grass, the most important essence of the baseball world.”

“John Baker” (2003)

Curtis: “Athletes are strong, and, of course, their body is their instrument. I see such strength in this image. Also a dash of superstition: Many athletes wear talismans and totems to help them navigate the uncertain world they’re in.”

Garlin: “Baseball is fun when you take off your shirt. “

Guest: “Will all the work I’ve put into this be enough?”

“Shawn Kohn Collage” (2003)

Curtis: “The chewing and spitting has always been an aspect of baseball that I don’t like. This made me laugh out loud. It pokes a hole in the mystery.”

Garlin: “Happens to me all the time.”

Guest: “Whether 4 years old or 20, a required moment.”

“2002 Oakland A’s Draft Class Contact Sheet” (2016)

Curtis: “Poetry in motion. The ability to see movement and color and texture all at the same time.”

Garlin: “I love baseball, and I love contact sheets.”

Guest: “A dream of every moment in a young life.”

“Manager’s Office, Iowa” (2003)

Curtis: “I can only imagine the goings-on in a locker room. The preparations and unwrapping. The presentations of the well-uniformed team, stripped down, hurting.”

Garlin: “The manager’s not gonna like this.”

Guest: “The starkness and immediate understanding of one’s rank in the hierarchy.”

“Touching Greatness” (2013)

Curtis: “Prayers. High five, just missed. The moments, the gestures of life. I chose exuberance!”

Garlin: “Lotion.”

Guest: “A prayer or a jubilant thank you. Or both.”

“Steve Stanley Experiment” (2015)

Curtis: “There’s a jewel-like quality to this. The jewel of the athlete meeting the game. The cut in the body, swing.”

Garlin: “I’m even good-looking on a crumpled piece of paper.”

Guest: “I know I can do this. I hope I can do this.”

“Little League Home Run Collage” (2015)

Curtis: “Baseball is very physical. This image has a real kinetic sense of those moments when all the waiting coalesces into speed and violent contact.”

Garlin: “The coach of the team that didn’t score ripped up this photo. He should be ashamed.”

Guest: “A photograph everyone has seen themselves in.
A mirror of a boy’s young life.”

“Oz, Oakland Stadium” (2014)

Curtis: “Night games. I love the perspective of this. What draws so many human beings into one place, illuminated and raucous? It has great energy to it.”

Garlin: “Those are my season tickets.”

Guest: “Heaven or Oz? The absolute dream for anyone who loves the game.”

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