COLORADO SPRINGS — A picture is worth a thousand words and for a local photographer, that meant receiving $1,000 dollars for a picture she took. She recently won two national awards for her work by the National Photographers of America.
Shannon Squires-Toews owns Squires Co-Op Studio which opened in July 2020. It's where she took the award-winning photo.
She won first place in one category, then first place overall among 5,000 entries.
"We could compare this to the Superbowl. It is the highest honor you can get within the Professional Photographers of America," said Squires-Toews. "They announced my image took the overall award and I burst into tears. It was a surreal. I'm still just in a little bit disbelief."
With the awards came a trophy for each and a check for $1,000. However, she's not keeping the money. Instead, she's donating the money to Operation Underground Railroad, a national organization that fights child sex trafficking.
"I didn't feel like it was my money to spend, for whatever reason, I just kind of felt it in my heart," said Squires-Toews. "To whom is given, much is required."
"The trafficking world essentially steals youth. Here I am trying to keep kids young and they're the complete opposite of that," said Squires-Toews, who mentioned about 90% of her work is with youth. "A lot of my imagination sessions really focus on the dreamy side of kids, getting to dream big dreams, and create worlds that are full of magic."
Squires-Toews says she wants to help on a local level. Soon, she'll begin working with The Exodus Road, a local non-profit that fights human trafficking and provides resources to victims.