At 21 years old, Loren Worthington slid head first into third base, but when he collided with the pitcher’s knee, he was instantly paralyzed. However, two decades after the accident that broke his neck, he discovered that by picking up a camera, he could still feel like he was right in the middle of the action.
“After I got hurt, it was painful to sit on the sidelines and watch other people play sports and participate, and not be involved. When I started this interest in photography, it was an opportunity to get back into sports again,” he told Great Big Story.
Now 54 years old, Worthington, who lives in Phoenix, isn’t exclusively a “disability photographer,” but he loves capturing adaptive sports.
In fact, he was even invited to Rio to shoot the 2016 Paralympic Games.
“It’s so easy to get up and run and compete when you have your full body,” he told Arizona Central at the time. “But to be able to do it and be paralyzed or missing a leg or whatever, you just realize how much harder it is even to get out of bed, and how hard they work at it. So I’m driven to take the best photo of them doing that.”
Worthington gets around in a wheelchair, and although he can move his arms, his hands have limited functioning. So, how did he initially click the shutter button? It took some brain power and a remote-control fob to figure out a way to adapt, but he got the job done.
“By the time I was done re-engineering it (the camera) to make it work, there were wires coming out of the top of it and I had taken the battery and taped it to the side, all because I needed a way to make it function with my hand ability,” Worthington said. “If I dropped it, it all fell apart. It was like Lincoln Logs. But it worked.”
Since then, he’s upped not only his equipment, but his “game,” and he uses his seat in a wheelchair to his advantage.
“Because I sit in a wheelchair and I know what it’s like, I really feel like I know how to get a shot that’s slightly different,” he said.
And in this world, “different” is an asset.
If you’d like to learn more about Loren Worthington and see some of his work, visit Worthington Visuals.