Sharon Grose won gold in the News Photography category at the Canadian Farm Writers Conference in Calgary, and with the same photo, took home the top award at the International Farm Writers Conference in New Zealand.
She was taking photos at Miller’s Dairy Farm near Creemore when she captured the shot that would turn heads among agricultural photographers around the world.
“I was following the Queen of the Furrows and they were at a plowing match. Wellington County and Waterloo both had queens there and I had been invited to tour the farm with them and take pictures of the girls and I just happened to be there,” she shared, mentioning the winning photo was almost an accident. “The cow’s nose is right up in the lens. Cows are curious animals, so I happened to just squat down, and I was snapping a couple of pictures and they were right there, right on top of me.”
The picture shows a cow’s nose in the foreground with the Wellington and Waterloo queens in the background, smiling at the animal’s antics. Grose believes it was the angles and dynamic nature of the photo that caught the award judges’ attention.
“I think it is just because it combines animals and people. It was also at a different kind of angle. I think that is part of it. It makes you look twice, and ask what those cows are doing,” she said.
When she learned that her photo had taken the top spot, she says she was surprised. The local photographer shared that she doesn’t take photos with awards in mind.
“It is very humbling. I was surprised and very honoured. The gentleman that won silver, I have been following his photography work for years and he has a very accomplished photography career. I was very surprised,” she said. “You don’t (take photos to win awards), but with this particular picture, after it was published, I had people comment on it, and when people start commenting on it, time and time again, you know there is something about this picture.”For Grose, photography is her way of telling a story without words.
“It is about capturing moments in time and memories. I would rather take a picture to say something than type 1,000 words. They always say a picture is worth 1,000 words, and for me, it is,” she said. “I work for a number of different papers, and if I can take a picture and accomplish what needs to be said, I will do it that way as opposed to writing a story.”
Grose travelled to New Zealand to receive the gold International Federation of Agricultural Journalists DeLaval Star Prize Photography People’s Choice award, touring the country and also visiting Australia.
“It was priceless. It was a priceless opportunity. For me, it was a win-win. Not only did we get to go to the conference, but we got to do some family travelling afterwards,” she said.
The trip is the topic of her talk at today’s Waterloo Rural Women’s Winter Conference. She will be sharing slides of her trip and talking with women in agriculture, helping them network and shed the isolation that comes with farm life in the winter months.
“I am going to be doing a presentation with slides of photos from our trip around Australia and New Zealand. That is going to be my contribution to the day,” she said, adding that the conference gives women the opportunity to hear about the changing face of women in agriculture. “We are also going to be having Jenn Christie there as well. She was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women Under 30. She lives in Waterloo and was raised on a dairy farm. She works for John Deere and she is going to be speaking about women’s role in agriculture.”