Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper

Cumberland photographer Sara Kemper recently took the top spot in a Canadian Geographic photography contest. Photo by Sara Kemper

Cumberland photographer takes top Canadian Geographic photo prize

Sara Kemper shows what home means to her in Comox Valley photo

What started as a hobby for Cumberland resident Sara Kempner has now landed her on the pages of one of Canada’s most prominent geographical magazines.

A few months ago, Kempner, 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 Kempner’s image as their first-place winner.

“It’s such a highly regarded publication and it’s such an honour,” she said. “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.”

Kempner, 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, Kempner explained living in the Valley “is such a privilege; I love to capture the essence of who we are.” About two or three years ago, Kempner snapped a photo while visiting her parents at the property she grew up on at Seal Bay by the ocean.

The photo is an homage to her childhood and she recalled running around on the logs as a child.

“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 their readers: “What does home mean to you?”

They received hundreds of entries showing homes, backyards, neighbourhood parks, family members and pets. Their judges chose a first, second and third place entry 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,” wrote Kempner in her caption.

She shared her winning entry on her Facebook page, and since then she said there has been an overwhelming outpouring of support. She added numerous people and businesses are sharing the photo, and credited small businesses in Cumberland and throughout the Valley for supporting one another.

As for the future, Kempner said she’s looking at developing her content and brand while continuing to pursue sports photography.

To view the ‘What is Home’ contest, visit https://bit.ly/3oYCZha