By HALEY SAWYER
After back surgery, most 44-year-olds might take it easy for a while. Not Susan Angstadt.
She found three 12-to 13-year-old girls taking care of and showing their own cows.
Angstadt’s photo story, titled “Dairy Queens,” proved difficult. In addition to dealing with post-surgery ailments, the photographer faced the challenge of shooting small girls around massive bovine as well as allowing for equal camera time for each of the three girls.
She managed to pull it off and captured the heart-warming relationship between the girls and their heifers. For the photo story, Angstadt was awarded the first Keystone Press Award of her career.
“It’s much more important to me to capture a moment that means something than get a technically good photo. That’s something that’s very much a priority for me,” Angstadt said. “I’m definitely not a techy-type person. I won’t be the one that’s carrying four cameras. I’m much more focused on relationships and moments and to me, that’s what photography’s about.”
Angstadt said that after 13 years of entering to win a Keystone Award, she told her boss that this was going to be her year.
“My boss said ‘You can’t do that. You can’t predict that,’” said Angstadt. “I said ‘Yes I can, I’m going to win one this year.’”
A Reading native, Angstadt moved to New York in 1988 where she studied motion picture production. Although she did not pursue a career in film, the experience exposed her to street photography, which eventually led her to photojournalism.
She moved back to Pennsylvania two days before September 11, 2001. After the terrorist attack, she offered to return to photograph Ground Zero for the Reading Eagle. While that assignment didn’t materialize, the paper’s photo editor kept her phone number and later hired her.
Angstadt says that her approach to photography is simple, and one that she never tires of.
“Capturing someone who had a unique spirit to them. You can always see when you’re going to meet those people and that’s always very exciting to me,” she explained. “That and if I find a really great looking old man, and he’s a veteran, my day is made.”
CORRECTION: This story was updated on Saturday, May 24, to note that Angstadt’s photos were taken at the Junior Dairy Show.
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