What started as a hobby for Cumberland resident Sara Kemper has now landed her on the pages of one of Canada’s most prominent geographical magazines.
A few months ago, Kemper, who grew her interest in photography into her own business, submitted an image online into Canadian Geographic’s What is Home re: Location Photo Competition. On Jan. 15, the magazine announced it selected Kemper’s image as their first-place winner.
“It’s such a highly regarded publication and it’s such an honour,” she says. “I got an email to confirm that it was my image and it wasn’t digitally altered, so I’ve known for about two weeks, but I didn’t say anything because honestly, I didn’t believe it.”
Kemper, who worked as an education assistant for students with special needs, found herself with some time on her hands as a result of the pandemic. She pivoted and spent more time on her business, focusing on landscapes, lifestyle, sport and nature photography.
Born in the Comox Valley, Kemper says living in the Valley “is such a privilege; I love to capture the essence of who we are.”
About two or three years ago, Kemper snapped a photo while visiting her parents at the property she grew up on at Seal Bay.
The photo is an homage to her childhood and time spent running around on the logs.
“I wanted to create an image as a tribute to show where I grew up and how I spent so much of my childhood – it influenced my lifestyle and photography – it’s a very personal image.”
Canadian Geographic launched the contest as part of their educational project on relocations in Canada. They asked readers: “What does home mean to you?”
After receiving hundreds of entries showing homes, backyards, neighbourhood parks, family members and pets, judges chose a first, second and third-place winner whose photo and caption both depicted the feeling of what ‘home’ means.
“I will be forever grateful for this beach and all it taught me,” Kemper wrote in her caption.
She shared her winning entry on her Facebook page, and since then she’s seen an overwhelming outpouring of support. Numerous people and businesses are also sharing the photo, she adds, crediting small businesses in Cumberland and throughout the Valley for supporting one another.
As for the future, Kemper says she’s looking at developing her content and brand while continuing to pursue sports photography.
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