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Sophomore Eric Staswick's Photography Captures Moments and Opens Doors

Photo of Eric Staswick - by Eric Staswick

CHICAGO, IL (February 8, 2007) – There are people at North Park University who don't want this story about sophomore Eric Staswick to be published. They are nervous someone will read it – and hire him.

"We don't want anyone to steal him from us," says Nicole Daniels, director of external relations, who oversees the student in his role as campus photographer. "His work has made a tremendous impact."

Staswick, a native of Lincoln, Neb., covers numerous events for the University and has produced nearly every sports photograph North Park has published in print and online over the past year. His work also has appeared frequently on the Evangelical Covenant Church web site.

The student already has his own business, even though he didn't start getting serious about photography until his senior year of high school. "I started with a digital SLR that came as a Christmas gift from my parents," he says. "From there my excitement about making pictures flourished. I found a way to show people my point of view and that excited me."

He took a photojournalism class in high school for two weeks but dropped it because of scheduling conflicts. "This past summer I took a photo course at North Park so I could begin working in the darkroom, but I would say 90 percent of what I know has been self taught by simply going out and taking pictures," Staswick say. "Shooting digital allows you to learn that way."

He shoots a lot of pictures. A football or basketball game will net anywhere from 500 to 1,500 photographs, depending on how many cameras he uses. "Men's soccer is my favorite sport to shoot without a doubt," he adds. "There is so much energy, and those guys play so hard day in and day out. It's just a beautiful game to watch."

It also led unexpectedly to his work with the University. "During one of the first home soccer games of my freshman year, I grabbed a camera and headed over to the Holmgren Athletic Complex to check it out," Staswick recalls. "I got tired of sitting in the stands and went down to the field to get a better angle. At halftime (former Sports Information Director) Sara Carlson introduced herself." The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the course of the year, he did assignments for other departments, like University Ministries and Admissions. In addition to his on-campus work, Staswick shot photographs for the school at CHIC 2006 in Knoxville, Tenn.

Attendees to any event will see Staswick walking around with at least two cameras draped around his neck, and he has begun using a remote-controlled camera at basketball games. Sports photography presents special challenges in addition to keeping from being trampled, he says.

"The speed of most sports really requires you to focus on peak action," Staswick explains. "Even sports like rowing require a picture be taken at a very precise moment to capture a good image."

"You have to really know the sport you're shooting so that you can predict where the play will be and be ready," he says. "A good sports photographer is preemptive rather then reactive in much of his work."

That planning enables Staswick to be ready for the unexpected that often leads to his best shots. "One of my favorite photos of the year was the photo that ran with the men's soccer versus Wheaton story. Lee had just scored a goal late in the game - I think the 116th minute - to win it, and he and Sinovic came running right by me to the stands," he recalls. "There was so much emotion and you could see it in their faces. When I look at other people’s work, a good photograph is one that shows me something I didn't see, but wish I had."

Observers note that Staswick has a gift for capturing the energy of a moment. "My strongest photography comes out when I am totally immersed in the event I'm shooting," he says. "I'm always searching for new angles and different ways to tell a story with pictures. Whether it's by shooting from catwalks or putting a remote-controlled camera behind a backboard, I try to ask 'What can I do to show someone who was at the event something they didn't see?'"

He adds that, "It's easy to take a picture that shows someone who wasn't at the event what it looked like, but I try to push myself beyond that."

Staswick isn’t sure what the future holds for him. "I used to think that I would run a private photo business, but I think the Lord may be calling me to something more than that," he says.

"Photography has opened a lot of doors for me to see things I wouldn't have had the opportunity to do otherwise, and I firmly believe the Lord has a plan to use those experiences," Staswick says. "I don't know if that will be through a camera lens, but if I continue with photography, I want to use it as a ministry tool."

Daniels says she is sure Staswick will make as much of a difference in the future as he has thus far at North Park. "I'm excited that North Park will be able to say 'We knew him when…,'" she quips. She just doesn't want anyone else to know about him now.