the 26 minute story

Like most photojournalists, I love doing long-term stories.

One of the major advantages of spending a lot of time with photo subjects is that they get accustomed to your presence and they start forgetting that they are being photographed and therefore real moments happen.

Well, every assignment can’t be ideal.

Last evening, I was sent to the home of Jason von der Linden. Jason recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan with the Illinois National Guard.

The gist of the story is that von der Linden like many of his fellow Guard members will be spending the holidays with family instead of in Kabul eating turkey off of a styrofoam plate.

I was told to arrive at 7pm and have photos transmitted back to the Tribune Tower by 8pm so that they could be in Tuesday’s edition.

As I was greeted at the door by Jason and his wife Isabella, I instantly recognized the look on their faces. The look was that of “Ummmm…we are not sure what we are supposed to do?”

I think that the von der Lindens were under the impression that I was there to make a happy snap family portrait.

I explained that my preference was to just hang out while they went about their lives.

Jason said that they were about to eat dinner. I said perfect.

Seconds later, Jason and Isabella’s 5-year-old daughter Abby ran face first into a chair.

As Isabella took Abby into the kitchen for a little triage, Jason peeked in around the corner to see what had happened and I made this image.

For me, it totally summed up the life of a spouse and parent whose mate is away in the military. They are used to being both mom and dad.

I spent twenty or so more minutes shooting dinner and then excused my self to my car to ingest, edit, caption and send.

It seems that my role at the Chicago Tribune is to be the “kitchen” shooter. Others cover the news in Afghanistan or Vietnam or Washington DC while I have the cul de sac at the end of Duquesne Avenue in Naperville covered.

You know what? That is fine with me.

©2009 Scott Strazzante/ Chicago Tribune

2 Responses to “the 26 minute story”

  1. Scott, Great story-telling shot. I’ll now always think of you as the Robert Capa of the cul de sac….

  2. Hi Scott – Thank you for this beautiful depiction of a day in the von der Linden Household. I really enjoyed it! They are wonderful people!

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