Loren Worthington is a photographer with a unique perspective, both literally and figuratively. A spinal cord injury cost Worthington the use of three of his limbs and with that, his participation in sports. Almost two decades later, he reconnected with his passion for athletics, but this time from behind a photographer’s lens. Though confined to a wheelchair, Worthington has distinguished himself with his photographs of para-athletes in the United States and at the Rio 2016 Paralympics.
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This story is a part of our Human Condition series. Come along and let us connect you to some of the most peculiar, stirring, extraordinary, and distinctive people in the world.
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– 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. My name is Loren Worthington
and I'm a photographer. When I was 21 years old, I
wanted to be a baseball player. I was playing one evening
and I hit a great double that was a lousy triple,
and I slid into third base, came in contact with
the other player's knee and it pinched my spinal cord. The result of that was paralysis. I'm a C5/6 quadriplegic. I've been in the wheelchair
for the past 30 years. It wasn't until almost
20 years after my injury that I picked up a camera. Adapting the camera is
kind of an extension of learning how to deal with a disability. I cannot use my right fingers. What I figured out is that I could use an external shutter control with my mouth and take the photograph. The type of photography
that I do is about people who are involved in
adaptive sports, and I felt my best photographs were of
people with disabilities because they saw in me somebody
that they could open up to. When I take photos of athletes, I wanna show them as
somebody who works hard, who competes hard and who wants to win. It really shows more about the
athlete than the disability. When I first started
shooting adaptive sports, I immediately set my goal to taking photographs at the Paralympics. I got the phone call from the United States Olympic Committee that they were interested in me going to Rio de Janeiro in 2016. There was some of the most
amazing athletes there and it worked out, same as what I've always had to deal with. You just gotta try it. Probably the first day,
it's not gonna work so well but after that, you just start getting better and better at everything you do.