It was a moment filled with poignancy, and Sharon Lee Chapman captured it well. Miss Rose De Lago had just claimed her first victory of the season at the P.B. Lawrence Stakes last Saturday, and strapper Jordan Chalmers was giving her well-deserved hugs and kisses. It was the perfect example of how magical equine photography can be, and as soon as we saw it, we knew we had to talk to Ms. Chapman.
Sharon’s love of horses has been with her from the start. “Like many young girls, I grew up with a love for horses, and horse racing. I never owned a horse growing up but always had a fascination with them.”
Her photography, however, would come later. “I’ve only been a photographer full time for five years. My background is in law, specialising in property and mortgage law. I made the switch in 2011, after realising it was “now or never” and didn’t want to look back in 20 years and regret any decisions or lack of.”
Sharon’s decision would prove to be the correct one, after she won the Quill Award for Best News Photograph that same year. She had taken a photo of Banna Strand jumping into the crowd at the Grand Annual Warrnambool jumps meeting.
“The Banna Strand photo was all about creating an opportunity for yourself. I didn’t have media accreditation but drove to Warrnambool and took a day off work in the hope that I would get one. As luck would have it I did, and I stood with all the pro photographers.
“When the first series of horses jumped, I followed them with my camera as I wanted to capture the crowd as well. It was just a very ‘lucky shot’ that Banna Strand jumped into the crowd in that moment.
“I didn’t know for at least half an hour that I had anything that no one else did, as I assumed all the other photographers had captured the same moment. It just snowballed when I first showed TVN the photo and I was swamped with radio interviews the next day and was even on Channel 7 news. I remember my Dad ringing me to say he saw the photo in the New York Times online.”
Read the rest of our interview with Sharon Lee Chapman here, and treat yourself to our complete guide to Spring Racing Carnival 2016 — you’ll find fashion inspiration, guides to horse racing, and more interviews with the most important people in the horse racing industry.
Track Mode is a horse racing and fashion site founded and curated by Nina O’Brien. Subscribe to our newsletter to get horse racing fashion edits straight to your inbox every other week. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google+.