Bill ZarsStaff Photographer
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Senior Staff Photographer Bill Zars joined the Daily Herald in 1993 after a career as a freelance editorial and advertising photographer that began during the nation's bicentennial.
Self taught in photography, he took his first photographs on a first-grade field trip. His strong belief in the importance of community journalism sparked his desire to become a newspaper staff member. He brought his expertise in studio photography, especially in the area of food, with him and continues to work on projects with the newspaper's advertising department.
Several years ago, dailyherald.com integrated video into the website. Noting the popularity of food networks on television, he came up with the idea of producing Cook of the Week videos for the Food section of the website.
He has worked on special projects for the newspaper and was most touched by readers' response to the three-part series on plight of the small town of Bridger on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Isolated, living in abject poverty and troubled by alcohol abuse, the 40 Lakota Sioux townfolk had to travel 100 miles just to do laundry. He followed teenagers from a Barrington church as they worked for a week in the town helping convert an empty shed into a laundry room, mending fences and repairing the town's church, making friends with teens from the tribe along the way. Moved by the story, several Daily Herald readers from different towns, knocked on their neighbors doors collecting castoff clothing, toys and furniture for the town. They rented trucks and made the delivery to South Dakota themselves.
Zars won an award from the Gordon Parks International Photo Competition, which celebrates culture and diversity, for his portrait of a small Lakota boy looking out through a torn screen door, taken during this trip. His work has also garnered awards from the Society for News Design international contest for a portfolio of his photo illustrations; from National Press Photographers Association's annual pictures of the year competition for a sports feature photograph of a high school soccer player celebrating her hat trick goal; and from the Associated Press for a news photo of teens mourning the loss of their classmate after the Palatine Brown's Chicken murders. Zars currently resides in Arlington Heights.