Im not very good with words. I never have been, really. So I’m just going to start typing and see what happens.
So I guess, in short, a couple of weeks ago at the Australian Professional Photography Awards I was absolutely blown off my seat to be awarded 2016 AIPP Australian Wedding Photographer of the year.
Um… So I’ve only dreamed about this happening ever since I started shooting weddings back in 2007. So many photographers I have looked up to for so many years have been past recipients of this amazing award and to now be included among them is slap in in the face amazing and a bucket list item checked.
The level of work produced in this country is incredible – I have to give a huge shout out to my good pal’s Kelly Tunney and Nathan Madigan for being named as finalists in the wedding category as well. I want to throw out a HUGE congratulations not only to all of the other category winners but also to everyone that entered. It takes massive amounts of guts to put your work out there to be judged in front of your peers, by your peers.
I want to talk about the prints I entered (below) and why I entered them. Each year, I try to include a mix of images that showcase my day to day documentary and wedding portraiture ability as well as include one or two images that push the boundary a little. In entering boundary-pushers, I want to force us (me) to think well outside the box of “contemporary wedding photography” within the category. This year, I included two ‘experimental’ pieces and two prints that showcase exactly what was delivered to my clients. The overall goal being a submission of images that showcase reactive shooting as well as forward thinking and for me, this is how I need to work in order to keep myself fresh, inspired and self-critical.
How far can push it? How else can I deliver a visual narrative that’s may not have been seen before? I do this for myself and (of course) I cross my fingers and toes when that print turns around, hoping that a judge or two enjoy the direction I take my work and they fight for it. The other side of the coin with this approach is that you can crash and burn, but to me, its well worth the risk.
The image of mine that was the highest scoring print (first up below – scoring a Gold with Distinction 95) was an image that (before submitted) I struggled with. I personally loved it but I was told by a few others that it was too much of a risk. I completely understood where they were coming from and new it would be. I didn’t enter it until I had two convincing conversations, one with my beloved Andrea and one with my bestie Todd Hunter McGaw – Their messages were the same, and Todd said, “If you do enter it and it bombs, will you be ok with knowing that you submitted a print you 100% believed in, even if others don’t like it? Or you could enter an image that’s a bit safer, and not have as much adrenaline pump through your veins when the print turns around.” My answer was ‘the first one, thanks’.
Turns out it was worth the risk. Thanks, Toddy.
To give you an idea of the quality of work that was submitted at the National awards this year, you can head over to this link and browse through the different category winner’s portfolios for a visual fix (of course after you look through my blogpost…. right? … hello?). Also, there was a lovely little article published in the Sydney Morning Herald (with a little more information) which you can read here .
I’d like to finish off by thanking the most important people that I could possibly thank and that’s my clients since 2007 — for believing in my vision and allowing me to do ‘me’. I’m so grateful to you all for giving me the gift of being able to do what I do for a living (that’s the Oscar-speech-part that I’ve been crying into a hairbrush for the past 9 years. Nailed it).