Focusing on Phil

Phil Dolinger captures special moments one picture at a time.


Aria Nagai

Phil Dolinger particpates in usual Friday night football game by taking pictures for the players and community. Phil enjoys spending his time capturing memorable moments for athletes.

Aria Nagai, sports editor

At every game, Chantilly students in both the stands and the field are looking for one man: Phil Dolinger. Known in the community as “Mr. Phil,” his presence both on and off the field is essential to every game. From game-winning goals to interceptions, home-run celebrations to student section hype, at the center of every memorable sports moment is Dolinger’s photography capturing the raw emotions of the team. 

What began as an accidental stumble into Chantilly sports the summer of 2008 is now an irreplaceable aspect of Chantilly athletes’ high school sports careers. 

“I love capturing moments; whether it’s a dramatic play on the field or the expression of an athlete on the bench,” Dolinger said. “Sports are perfect for creating moments.”

What is posted on social media sites is the result of hours of work and editing that Dolinger goes through after every game, trying to perfect and fully capture the atmosphere of the moment.

“It takes one to two hours for each game. Because I shoot in burst mode, I can get anywhere from 500-2000 photos for each game,” Dolinger said. “I go through each photo, looking for the best, then straighten the ones I’m keeping and often adjust the white balance if needed.”

The dedication of Dolinger to continue this work for over a decade has created tremendous impacts on the local community, providing students, staff and families something to look back on over the years.

“The service that Phil offers helps the entire Chantilly athletic community by providing professional quality photographs at a reasonable price,” Chantilly Booster President David McLean said. “This allows parents, family and friends to have permanent keepsakes of their student’s athletic experience.”

Of course, with his busy photography and work schedule, it is impossible for Dolinger to attend every single sporting event. With the help of his partner Jeff Reynolds, Dolinger is able to continue providing the community with priceless shots.

“Jeff Reynolds has joined me and covers a lot of games when I am away. When I am here and we both shoot, we have the luxury to cover a game from opposite sides of the field or court,” Dolinger said. “I get extra, great shots that I could not get by myself.”

Reynolds has also seen the impact Dolinger has had not only on the community, but on himself and his photography over the years. 

“Phil’s easygoing nature and generosity has impacted me greatly as a person and as a photographer. It is easy to be around and partner with a person with such a genuine personality and passion for life, family, friends, food and photography,” Reynolds said. “I consider Phil one of my closest friends and mentor.”

Students have posted, liked, commented and shared Dolinger’s photography on various social media sites, showcasing their latest sports moment for their friends and family.

“He’s really devoted to Chantilly sports,” senior and football player Liam Reardon said. “He’s not necessarily the center of attention on the field, not always in the spotlight, but his presence is really important for athletes, and we really appreciate everything he does.”

Aside from his exceptional photography, Dolinger has continued to be a valuable part of the Chantilly community, providing a friendly face at games. 

“Phil is genuinely just one of those people that one is fortunate to meet in life,” McLean said. “There aren’t many of them [so] when you meet one, you try to stay close to them.”

Through his photography, Dolinger provides every athlete with the opportunity to be in the spotlight.


“My goal for players has been to give them shots of themselves in a format similar to Sports Illustrated,” Dolinger said. “I have wanted to give as many players as possible, photos of themselves in action.”

Over the years, Dolinger has seen students come and go, but one thing has remained constant; his love for sports photography. 

“I get to see the entire Chantilly community in a way that few do- I see the athletes, the coaches, the fans, the teachers, the athletic trainers, the volunteers taking tickets and staffing the snack bars and many of the Booster members,” Dolinger said. “It really is a community.  I am honored to be a small part of this wonderful community.”