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|| News Item: Posted 2008-04-29

Winning Moments: No College No Pro: 'Shadows'
'Each time, I would photograph the Titans on a sunny afternoon, I would spend a little time playing with the light.'

By Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune

Photo by Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune

Photo by Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune

The Fenger Academy basketball team readies for practice as the late afternoon sun slices through their high school gymnasium in Chicago.
(Editors Note: We asked those awarded 1st place in the Sports Shooter Newsletter Annual Contest to write a short piece to give us a behind-the-scenes look at what went into their winning entry. To see all of the winners in this years contest, check this link:

As a photographer at the Chicago Tribune, I am assigned to cover a wide variety of sports on a wide variety of levels.

I love the challenge of making unique images at huge events like the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Olympics but still my heart lies with the high school athlete.

Being a general assignment photographer, I am sent to about 50 sporting events a year. At most of those games, I sit back with a long lens and attempt to capture the play of the game. I occasionally pull out a wide angle for a different perspective or for post-game reaction but the majority of the work is pretty straightforward.

Several years back, I realized that I was starting to get lazy and wasn't pushing myself to find the human side of sports so I started a weekly photo column called "Heart and Soul" chronicling the non-action side of high school athletics. The column allowed me to be present for the small events that show why athletes compete and not just how they compete. I was able to capture situations that exemplified the drive, motivation and camaraderie that come along with being on a sports team.

That photo column lasted for two years. I loved doing it, but the column required me to find a different school and sport each week and I felt like I wasn't getting behind the scenes enough. By having to establish new access week after week, I wasn't able to truly integrate myself into the team dynamic.

That issue led me to start doing "The Season" photo column in the fall of 2007. "The Season" covers one team at a time for the entire season. It has allowed me to be privy to the weekly ebb and flow and the subtle emotion that I was missing in "Heart and Soul".

My 1st place photo in the Sports Shooter Newsletter Annual Contest came from my second installment of "The Season" which was the Fenger Academy boy's basketball team.

Fenger Academy was opened in 1926 and still occupies the same majestic building that it did on day one. Part of the structure is a cavernous 2nd floor gymnasium that the boy's basketball team plays all its home games. One of the features of the gym is a wall of 30-foot high narrow windows that in the late afternoon dissect the space with bands of light.

Each time, I would photograph the Titans on a sunny afternoon, I would spend a little time playing with the light. On this day in mid-December, I arrived early to practice and was ready when the student athletes came in. After that it was just waiting for the right combination of ballers to pass through the light. Fortunately, the colors and body positions came together to make a pleasing composition and one of my favorite images of the season.

Related Links:
Strazzante's member page

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