As a photographer, Cade Hornecker catches people off-guard. Why? To start, he’s 7 feet tall and a Division I basketball player. An Amarillo High standout who graduated in 2022, Hornecker was recruited by college programs across the nation, ultimately choosing Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. He injured an ankle before this season—his second at SIU—and surgery sidelined him from competition. After recovering, he’ll have three years of eligibility remaining.

The injury has given him more time for a secondary passion: photography. “My mom was the one who originally introduced me to photography. Growing up, she always had a camera, always trying to make me and my brother pose for pictures,” Hornecker says. Eventually his grandparents gave him a digital camera and he was hooked.

Like many in his otherwise digital generation, Hornecker has become fascinated with film. “Growing up with phones and computers just inches away at all times of my life has made me appreciate the truly analog ways of life,” he says. “I love writing in journals, reading books and anything that lacks internet or a screen. Film photography is no different. With film I can have beautiful colors and images at a much slower and intentional pace that always allows me to stay in the moment.”

He’s also used his camera to explore his new home in Illinois, where trees, hills and lakes have replaced the flat plains of the Panhandle. “Last year I could walk out of my dorm to a beautiful lake on campus, which I frequently walked around with a camera just to capture it all,” he says. “I want to capture and share as much as I can while I’m here.” 

Basketball and school still occupy most of his time. Despite his injury, Hornecker has continued to travel with the Missouri Valley Conference team. He almost always has a camera with him. “If something is important to you, then you make time for it. I love capturing life and can’t use being busy as an excuse to not do something I truly love,” he says.

See more of Hornecker’s work on Instagram at @cadehornecker and @picsbycade.