JUNEBUG BEST OF THE BEST AWARD WINNER 2016….
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from the incredible team at Junebug Weddings telling me that two of my images had been chosen by their judges as overall winners in their 2016 Best of the Best Engagement Photos Competition. The judges selected 50 images out of over 5000 entries from 35 countries across the globe, so to have placed two images had me jumping around the living room. It is really quite rare to be a double ward winner. Getting my work alongside some legends of the industry (some also good friends) is really humbling, especially given the high quality of the other images this year.
The week after the announcement I saw either both or one of these images featured in articles by the Huffington Post, The Daily Mail and Buzzed. All in all a pretty good couple of weeks. Obviously awards aren’t everything, but if they allow me to get more eyes on my work and to lend extra credence to the work I do and convince more people to trust me to capture the most important day of their lives, then it’s a really good thing. If nothing else it’s also a confidence boost which will inspire me to strive for more success, to keep innovating and to keep delivering excellence to all my clients. I’m excited to see what 2016 brings.
A few people have asked about the images so I thought I might as well use this to explain how they were created. One of them in particular needs some explaining, particularly after the Daily Mail article was a bit misleading with their description!
WINNING PHOTO 1:
This is Tamy and Ryan sharing an intimate, private moment with me less than a foot away from the with a camera 🙂 That’s really how it often works, you have to get super close to create a composition like this so it’s inherently obtrusive and quite far removed from a private moment, but if the couple is relaxed, trust you 100% and you create the environment for them to lose themselves in each other, well then it can feel private. I guess you’d have to ask the couple how they felt but if they weren’t relaxed and enjoying the moment, I doubt the serenity obvious in the image would have existed. It’s always about authentic, honest connections in my couple shoots, and I think this image has that in spades. I don’t often do the classic nose touch pose, so it’s ironic that both winning images include it, albeit to different degrees. It was certainly the obvious choice for this setup, as we were in close quarters on a rock on a Palos Verdes beach, just feet above the ocean. I was so close with no room to move, I had committed to the composition allowed with my 35mm lens. The sun was setting behind them and giving me some lens flare but I knew I wanted to expose for the connection (not the sunset) and the glow on her head piece, just under her chin. I could see there was also some reflected light from me (or maybe the cliff behind me) which was illuminating the texture of the head piece folds, so I wanted to retain that information. Once I set the exposure it was just about getting the perfect composition, so I kept shooting and moving, trying to also get some flare. During the sequence I asked for eyes open and close, told them move away and back in, and this is the shot that worked. For a relatively static image, this has all the feels – honest, authentic feels at that.
WINNING PHOTO 2:
This is Esther and Justin in a dirty alley in Pasadena Old Town, which is actually hard to find as it’s a very well kept and pretty little town 🙂 Anyway, we were creating a few portraits in this back alley, which were fine, but as we starting to leave to avoid the stench of the trash cans and garbage juice on the floor, I figured we could make use of said garbage juice! This is nothing to do with floorboards, as the Huffington Post somehow concluded on their own, it’s just a concrete floor with a slightly depressed centre for rainwater and seemingly garbage juice/waste. The light was perfect for reflections so I just decided to make a reflection shot work with the puddle. I just got super low to the ground keeping the puddle in the middle of my composition and got them to stand dead centre and such that I could see their reflection. I worked the scene for a while – a good 5 minutes, trying to get the right angle and pose. I did have them touching noses at first but realized a gap would work better for this image, both in terms of the feel of the moment and just from a compositional standpoint. In post I just rotated the image 180 degrees so it had the couple’s reflection at the top of the image. Obviously in camera they were upside down at the bottom of the frame. I applied a really cold edit to this frame as it best fit the mood of the moment – accentuating the blue tones and highlights. I really love this image as it was created out of nothing, something inherently un-romantic, but people seem to feel something when they see it. That’s the trick to any good image. So yeah, no floorboards, and no photoshop as a number of internet trolls asserted 🙂