It is a brisk autumn Saturday morning as boots squelch in mud, sirens drone, and whistles are blown — the call of country sport.
But there is another sound Riverland locals are guaranteed to hear: Grant Schwartzkopff’s camera shutter capturing every piece of the action.
The Renmark photographer is celebrated for his contribution to the community, and has attended more than 6,000 sporting events in his career.
The self-taught shutterbug was never after acclaim or adoration but took up the hobby to find peace and calm during one of the most difficult times in his life.
“It was a lifesaver for me,” he says.
Grant Schwartzkopff kitted up for his fair share of sport growing up in regional South Australia, getting into A-grade cricket and junior football.
“But it got put to the back because work commitments didn’t allow any weekend sport,” he says.
His path to becoming the Riverland’s iconic photographer was accidental.
“My wife, Shelley, was very sick for all of her life, and we maintained a lifestyle at home,” he says.
“So, sport was really not an option — we concentrated on being alive.”
In 2010, Grant was inspired to capture some glorious sporting moments, with Shelley’s encouragement.
He went on a mission to Berri’s Alan Glassey Park to shoot an image he had been visualising on the baseball field.
“I thought, “Oh my God, what have I done? I’ve got nothing’,” he says.
“I’ve got a black screen with a couple of little white dots for the lights.”
Grant bought a new lens, researched techniques and picked up tricks of the trade from other shutterbugs in the community.
About a year later he returned to the baseball park with confidence.
“I figured why stop at baseball? Let’s go to the football.”
Then Shelley passed away.
“I often wonder if Shell knew the end was coming, and maybe that was why she encouraged me to get the camera,” he says.
Grant says his new-found passion for photography was a much-needed distraction after losing Shelley.
“It was a lifesaver for me; if I wasn’t doing photography, I really wonder what I would be doing,” he says.
“Photography has been a blessing, really.”
Grant says he lives by three rules when it comes to his craft.
“I want to capture what you don’t really see in the moment when you watch the game,” he says.
“I want to promote a variety of sports. If one kid suddenly thinks, ‘I could give table tennis a try’, just by seeing a few photos, what’s wrong with that?
“And the third is giving people memories — I love making memories for other people.”
Grant’s dedication has left a lasting impression on those he meets, including Riverland Softball Association secretary Monica Haaja.
“He’s helped us get softball out into the community and to showcase all our sporting greats,” she says.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without his photos. He’s boosted so much sport over the years.”
Riverland locals Carrie-Ann Willis and Naomi Campbell say Grant’s passion is endless.
“He does not ask for a thing in return. He does it purely from the goodness of his heart,” Ms Willis says.
“Grant’s recorded many of our sporting elite, but more than that he’s captured everyone. He makes us all feel like we’re the best athletes on the field,” Ms Campbell says.
While Grant says he has grown a lot since that first attempt on the baseball field, his job is not finished yet.
“I still don’t rate myself; I think I’ve got so much improvement that I want to do, I don’t think I’m anywhere near where I want to be,” he says.
“It’s something I just feel I want to do.”