France, April 28 -- More accustomed to documenting social issues than sports, Zannettacci told RFI it was challenging to come up with a project that matched the festival's theme.

First and foremost, he knew he wanted to find a way to put ordinary people on a pedestal by combining his loves of portraiture and the urban environment.

His collaborative project allowed him to meet sportspeople of all ages from the working-class suburb of Corbeil-Essonnes, some 30 kilometres south of Paris.

He photographed them practicing all sorts of sports, from billiards to petanque, football to gymnastics to ping-pong.

Borrowing from a technique he used once before in a series on the fashion industry, he began by taking pictures of the athletes striking a...