British Columbia

B.C. photographer captures top prize in Canadian Geographic competition

Cumberland, B.C., resident Sara Kempner took top honours in the prestigious competition, which asked photographers to submit a shot that captured the feeling of home.

Competitors were asked to submit a photo that conveyed the feeling of home

This self-portrait of photographer Sara Kempner balancing on Seal Bay beach in Courtenay, B.C., received first prize from Canadian Geographic magazine in a competition that asked for images showcasing the meaning of home. (Sara Kempner)

For Sara Kempner, home is where the waves of the Salish Sea meet the driftwood-strewn shoreline of the east coast of Vancouver Island — and the Cumberland, B.C., resident has now welcomed millions of people to share it with her. 

The emerging photographer is the winner of a recent competition held by Canadian Geographic magazine that asked people to submit an image that captures what home means to them.

With more than three million readers in Canada and abroad, Kempner's shot of Seal Bay, the beach she grew up playing on in Courtenay, B.C., is getting a lot of exposure.

"It was quite the honour," she told Gregor Craigie, host of CBC's On The Island.

The winning image, of Kempner standing atop a log jutting out over the water, was taken at sunset using a tripod and timer. She told Craigie her intent was to shoot a playful, self-portrait that was an homage to the place she explored so much as a kid.

"It just worked out perfectly," she said about the golden-hued results.

Sara Kempner said as a child, she loved to play 'can't touch the ground' by hopping along the logs and rocks at Seal Bay beach. This sense of playfulness is what she says she wanted her winning photograph to convey. (Facebook/Sara Kempner Photography)

Kempner, who prior to COVID-19 was working as a substitute education assistant, said a silver lining of the pandemic is the opportunity it has given her to hone her photography skills and try to turn her passion into a paycheque.

"It made me focus on things that I really wanted to focus on, so I'm very grateful for that," she said.

Kempner is currently working on expanding her career behind the camera by taking business classes and teaching photography skills online.

According to Canadian Geographic, Kempner's photograph was selected from hundreds of entries.

The magazine was launched in 1930 and currently publishes six issues a year.

Tap here to see Kempner's winning image complete with submitted caption as it appears in the online version of the magazine, as well as the second- and third-place winners.

With files from On The Island


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