The Big Unit and the big picture

DURING HIS 22-YEAR MLB career, 6'10" lefty Randy Johnson intimidated both opposing batters and the occasional photographer. Now the five-time Cy Young winner finds himself on the opposite end of the camera as a rock photographer. Johnson majored in photojournalism at USC and shot concerts for the school paper during the offseason. He stayed interested in the form as a pro. "On the days I wasn't pitching, I would be at the end of the dugout talking to photographers. I would pick their brains and try to implement what I learned in my own photography," says Johnson, who notes that each craft demands precision. "When I was pitching, I had tunnel vision, and I was looking at the little glove that I was throwing my fastball to," he says. "When I shoot, I look through a viewfinder, and it shows me what's in that little box." While honing his digital skills or adding postproduction to his quiver, Johnson shoots events as varied as NASCAR and the X Games. He's also joined three USO tours to Afghanistan and gone on safari to Africa. But rock stars remain his favorite subjects. During his playing days in Seattle, the metalhead forged friendships with baseball-obsessed bands like Rush and Soundgarden, both of which have since hired him as a tour photographer. Check out rj51photos.com; his portfolio of concert shots is as his portfolio of concert shots is as mesmerizing as the makeup at a Kiss concert. "It's a labor of love," says Johnson. "I'm not saying I'm Ansel Adams. I'm just saying it's something I enjoy doing."

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