Brace Hemmelgarn, a St. Cloud native is making his name known in the professional sports photography world and he’s doing it in his own state. Hemmelgarn, who went to St. Cloud Cathedral High School, where he was an outfielder for the 2007 Class 2A state championship baseball team is the team photographer for the Minnesota Twins.
After graduating from St. Cloud Cathedral, Hemmelgarn continued his education at St. John’s University where he got his degree in Communications. Hemmelgarn started doing graphic design for the athletics department and had ideas for designs he wanted to create but could not find photos that fit his ideas. He began doing his own photography and discovered a passion to pursue it as a career.
“I developed a passion for sports photography, and it was a way to keep me in the game of baseball after my playing career ended after graduating from SJU,” Hemmelgarn said. In the 2010-11 season for St. Cloud River Bats, Hemmelgarn interned as the team photographer. Also a part of the River Bats team that season was Twins catcher Mitch Garver.
When asked what it was like to photograph Garver in St. Cloud and now for the Twins, Hemmelgarn said: “It’s been pretty cool. That 2010 team I worked with had four or five guys make it to The Show (Major Leagues), which is crazy. The baseball world is quite small, but to shoot Mitch in 2010/11 in St. Cloud and then both end up with the same MLB club and to be there to shoot his debut in 2017 was simply a cool moment to be a part of. We’ve had our fair share of St. Cloud talks over the years and it’s been fun to have those years to look back on.”
After the 2010-11 season with St. Cloud, Hemmelgarn was able to land a part-time position with the Minnesota Twins while attending his final year at St. John’s University. After completing his internship Hemmelgarn remained with the Twins staff on a part-time basis until the 2014 season when he was offered to be the first full-time team photographer in franchise history. Hemmelgarn has now captured the Twins over the past nine years, getting images that have made Sports Illustrated, Topps Baseball Cards, and various sports news outlets. On top of being the Twins full-time photographer, he also works for USA Today taking pictures of the Minnesota Vikings, Wild, Gophers, Timberwolves, and numerous other professional sports teams. Doing this landed him on The Athletic’s “Top 35 under 35” along with former Rox outfielder Devin Pearson.
When asked what a normal game day for the Twins looks like, Hemmelgarn said: “Thankfully, there is a lot of stuff going on throughout a season, so game days can vary from day-to-day. But generally, for a 7:10 pm game, I will get into the office by 10 am and work on photos from previous games. Around 4 pm or so, I’ll head out to the field to shoot batting practice, sneak in dinner around 5:30 and then head to the field around 6:30 or so. Depending on how the game goes, typically leave the field about 30-60 minutes following the last out. I had a lot more wins/fun games this year, so the nights were definitely on the later side, but it was worth it!”
During the offseason when Hemmelgarn isn’t taking pictures for other sports teams, he finds himself traveling taking pictures of beautiful places around the world.
“Over the past few off-season’s, I’ve found a passion for traveling. I like to get away, see the world and take photos of a different variety. It helps to recharge the creative juices after shooting over 100 games of the same sport on the daily basis,” Hemmelgarn said.
When asked what advice he would give to someone aspiring to be an MLB photographer Hemmelgarn said: “Simply put, you don’t need to start in the MLB to make good photos. If you have a Northwoods League team or minor league team in your town, there are plenty of great photos waiting to be taken at those ballparks. The access is going to be a lot better and you will have the opportunity to create unique images that will help to build a strong portfolio to use when applying for big-league opportunities.”
Interested in being a photography intern for the Rox? Apply here: https://bit.ly/2VRffOo