W&L's Michael Hanson '03 Goes Outside

In San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, two teenagers opt out of watching the cattle and instead practice their swings. The cows graze on the town trash while one young man swings a board at a flying bottle cap (Michael Hanson photograph).

In San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, two teenagers opt out of watching the cattle and instead practice their swings. The cows graze on the town trash, while one young man swings a board at a flying bottle cap. (Michael Hanson photograph.)

Outside magazine has an extensive question-and-answer story with photographer Michael Hanson, a member of Washington and Lee's Class of 2003. Members of the W&L community had a chance to see and hear from Michael in October, when he returned to campus to give an illustrated lecture, "Documentary Photography of Latin American Resources: From Amazon Oil to Caribbean Baseball."

The Outside piece focuses in part on Michael's project documenting Caribbean baseball, in which he followed a young shortstop named Raymael Flores, who signed a major league contract with the Boston Red Sox. Here's the way Michael described the baseball project to Outside:

I think it's part of the storytelling thing where I want to know a culture, or a community or a country or whatever you want to call it. You try to find ways to talk to the community. It’s not as easy as just going to document the Dominican Republic. You think, “What are some characteristics that I can see the Dominican Republic through?” and baseball is the most dominating thing. More than Catholicism and Christianity, it's like a religion and so if you are curious about a community and curious about a country or a culture, baseball is a lens to see that community.

Michael's focus on baseball is natural, too, because of his own background as a baseball All-American at W&L and a minor league player in the Atlanta Braves organization. In fact, it was during his playing days with the Braves that he began to experiment with photography.

What really seems to characterize Michael's photography is the broad variety of subjects he treats — from baseball in the Dominican Republic to coastal living in Newfoundland. He took some of his newest images, and among the most intriguing, while he was doing a portrait in Cleveland and decided to drop down to Amish country to shoot, among other things, the Mount Hope Auction.

See a slide show of Michael's work from Outside magazine here.

Michael's work appeared in the Spring/Summer issue of W&L: The Washington and Lee University Alumni Magazine; his images illustrated the story his brother, David '00, composed about their travels to write a book on urban farming.

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