If a bit of shameless self promotion offends you then please look away.
Actually you could just look at the pictures if you like?
Ok so something amazing happened last weekend
I’m really quite excited and still can’t quite believe it!
It’s one thing, but its also lots of things that have led up to this that make it even more special to me.
The story really starts a few years ago….
I’ve been a professional photographer for a fair while now and have always loved it.
Its always been what I know I should be doing with my life ever since I finished my Visual Arts degree back in 1991.
It took a few years to get into (and to get any good) but thanks to the tutelage of Tony Warrilow (the founder of Society)
I flowed into a job that I love.
I’ve had friends in the industry but always kept a pretty low profile.
I don’t know what changed in me a few years ago, but I knew I needed new challenges.
The desire for new inspiration and to rekindle the creative in me became a priority.
So I rejoined the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography), reconnected with some old friends and made some new ones,
and started entering the print awards, which was daunting and exciting but most of all challenging and inspiring.
Then the WEOA (Wedding Events Of Australia) organisation was born and we felt this was a great thing to be involved in as something that united our wedding industry.
Once again it was inspiring and motivating.
Winning the WEOA Wedding Photographer of the Year for Sydney in 2013 was incredibly special.
Winning the WEOA Wedding Photographer of the Year again in 2014 was simply mindblowing!
(Ok so we tied with another studio in 2014 but I’m fine with that.)
Reward enough was making it as a finalists again, so to be seen once again by our wedding industry peers at being at the top of our game was humbling indeed.
I genuinely love photographing weddings.
the joy, the excitement, the love …
I even enjoy the pressure of being an important part of that most special of days, creating images that couples will treasure forever.
Making people happy is the best reward in a job ever, and I will always love it.
But there is another side to me that yearns for “nowhere”
That place in the outback of Australia that most would fly over rather than drive into.
“Nowhere” is where i find that extra sense of peace,
that even closer connection with God and his creation.
Birds and wildlife are my favourite non-people subjects to photograph.
Some people might call me a little bit crazy but I will travel quite a distance to see and photograph a rare or especially beautiful bird.
Ok so I have also been known to travel a long way to see a boring looking brown pigeon but hey!
Last November I drove 3000km in 4 days to see a particularly rare and especially beautiful bird.
(The vibrancy of the colours of a male Scarlet-chested Parrot seriously have to be seen to be believed!)
Yes it was crazy but also inspiring.
That inspiration flows back into wanting to make every couple and family that we photograph as happy as possible with the best images that we are capable of creating.
That love of both weddings and wildlife is who I am.
So it was extra special to be rewarded for those nowhere times as well.
In 2014 I was awarded the AIPP NSW Science, Nature & Environment Photographer of the Year.
One of the images I entered was of a Bearded Dragon photographed a long way from anywhere with a couple of mates.
A trip I will never forget
(a trip where we also saw heaps of those boring brown pigeons – except they were awesome.)
Later as you would know, we moved from our old home on Military Road, Mosman
to new digs in the gorgeous peaceful surroundings of Headland Park towards Middle Head.
Finally I feel like our wedding space beats in time with my heart.
Birds sing at our front door and trees surround.
Brides and Birds coexist in one space!
Then at the NSW AIPP Print Awards in May I was awarded the 2015 “Science, Wildlife & Wild Places Photographer of the Year”!
I didn’t think that anything could be better in 2015.
I certainly didn’t need any more awards to be happy with my life or my profession.
I’ve been on a high, relishing the recognition of a couple of decades of hard work, all the while being humbled by so many other photographers around me – many of whom are close friends – whose incredible work inspires me.
And then last Friday happened.
Probably one of the biggest highlights of my photographic career.
In terms of wildlife photography in Australia there really is only one competition to enter.
Run by the South Australian Museum and Australian Geographic, ANZANG is an acronym for Australia, New Zealand, Antartica & New Guinea.
ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year is our most prestigious competition for natural history images photographed within our bioregion.
I still remember entering in its inaugural year 12 years ago.
I’ve entered many times and often had images make it into the final selection for the exhibition, but never taken out a category.
The closest was in 2013 when my image of a Little Egret catching a fish was chosen as the People’s Choice Award from the exhibition.
But on Friday night they read out the overall winner.
The 2015 Australian Geographic ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year….
….and it was me.
I have an amazing, loving, supportive wife who lets me get away when I need to, and two beautiful daughters who make my heart melt every single day.
Having Amy next to me on Friday night was like the icing on the cake…
…and also the bits inside that keep it from falling apart.
I have been incredibly blessed to be able to do what I love for over 20 years.
Brides and Birds.
the story of my life.
some hopefully interesting links – who doesn’t love an acronym?
People i knew and respected in the wedding industry were already a part of it including photographer friends.
It only took a short phone call to Jessica, the driving force behind WEOA, to realise that this was something i wanted to be a part of.
We love playing our part in the celebration of a couples union, and it seemed that their vision was to continue that celebration with recognition of the people that work hard to make brides and grooms happy.
So we entered.
I must admit that when i first started reading the application for Photographer of the Year i was daunted!
This wasn’t simply a popularity contest won by those with the most likes or votes.
There were questions.
not “what’s your favourite colour”, but questions like
“describe a recent challenge you had in your business dealings with a client and how you overcame the challenge to deliver a win/win scenario?”
“describe your initial meeting with the bridal couple”
“what differentiates you from your competition?”
Not only did we have to submit images, but we needed to provide references from our wedding couples as well as other industry professionals
Our website was scrutinised and our marketing evaluated
A panel of expert judges then came together and put all those things together.
and we won.
At an amazing black tie dinner at the Sofitel Wentworth in Sydney, Sarah Rogers (my right hand photographer and studio manager) and I were excited and emotional when that wonderful cliche rang out
“and the winner is….
Among our peers and competitors, who are also our friends, we were named from the six other finalists as the Sydney WEOA Wedding Photographer of the Year.
We were ushered out to have photos taken and be interviewed for WEOA TV bubbling with excitement but were quickly ushered back into the main ballroom
the Diamond Winner was about to be announced…
The WEOA Diamond Award is the award not just for winning a category, but for being judged the best submission overall.
I am still trembling as I remember hearing the voice of Kerri-Anne Kennerley …..
“and the winner is Society Photography!”
To stand on the stage in front of a room full of amazing wedding industry royalty was a feeling i won’t forget.
(and I’m SO glad i bought a suit and actually wore a bow tie)
I am so proud of our team
our little photography family
Sarah, Dean, Carla, Caitlin, Steve, Jess – this wouldn’t have been possible without your hard work, enthusiasm and loyalty
to my amazing wife Amy,
thank you for being my rock, my encouragement, and my love
This dream started almost 20 years ago when i was lucky enough to start working for a great photographer – Tony Warrilow.
To have been part of Society Photography from the beginning has been an amazing journey and one that I wouldn’t change for anything
To lead our team to even be in the running for these awards is truly special,
and to win, even sweeter
But most importantly
To have been welcomed into their most special day by so many beautiful, amazing couples
is a privilege that we never take for granted
We love what we do
Thank you for letting us
Special thanks to our friends at Inlighten Photography for allowing us to use the official images from the awards night!
….perhaps the most dreaded four letter word in a bride’s vocabulary.
Of all the questions I am asked by brides when talking about their wedding, “what happens if it rains?” is the one always asked with the most trepidation.
My answer in a nutshell is to simply “smile”!
Essentially the key to a great wedding in adverse circumstances is in the way you deal with it.
There are so many reasons why your wedding day should be the happiest day of your life, so to let the one thing that you can’t control alter that is more than just a shame. At the end of the day you will still be married to the man you love, surrounded by your closest family and friends, and if you keep the big picture in mind you will still have fantastic memories captured by your photographer. After all if you are happy and soaking up the inherent joy of the occasion (no pun intended but i could easily take that further…) then a good photographer will be able to capture that, and create memories of the day that you will cherish forever.
There are certainly things to keep in mind if it is really wet of course. Locations and timing may change and the way we photograph will sometimes be different in response to that. Whilst we will always encourage our brides to not be stressed about the dress getting dirty, we won’t be aiming to soak up puddles with it! We always bring white umbrellas with us too so that have one less thing to worry about! If you do want to get your own umbrellas we would usually suggest plain white and certainly avoid coloured or striped ones. Tartan are pretty much always a no-no, but still seem to be the fashion with some wedding car drivers. Same goes for big advertising logos…. we photographed a wet wedding once where the celebrant had an umbrella emblazoned with a funeral parlour logo! Seriously.
From a photographic perspective, there is often the opportunity for some great candid images. Rain can be really atmospheric and overcast conditions often provide a softer more even light. Being ready to go that extra mile or react quickly to changing weather to get the shot will reward you with something wonderful. Technology can also help. I won’t forget in a hurry one of the wetter weddings i photographed at Watson’s Bay. At the end of the ceremony it looked like the weather was closing in so I checked the Bureau of Meteorology rain radar on my trusty phone and saw a big rain front coming. We quickly asked the priest if they could leave the church open for us for a little while, postponed family photos and raced up the hill with the bridal party where we were able to create some beautiful candid and also dramatic images in less than ideal conditions, but before the torrential downpour! If it wasn’t for the attitude of a wonderful couple and their flexibility to change their plans suddenly and trust me, we wouldn’t have had the same end result. (Thanks Connie and Alex!)
Another thing is that often the rain can pass and you have awesome light or rainbows. Storm fronts always make a spectacular backdrop too!
So a few tips:
1. Dont’ stress!
2. If you are planning an outdoor ceremony, make sure you have a back up plan
3. Discuss wet weather photographic locations with your photographer
3. Make sure you have matching umbrellas (solid white or black) organised well in advance
Funny that here we are after more than 15 years, writing “the beginning”.
But that’s how things should be.
You see for me a beginning means something new….something challenging…..something exciting.
How sad it would be if all we seemed to write in life was “The Same”.
Not that everything needs to change of course. Some constants in the way you approach things, applying yourself, being the best person you can be…
These things are good to be the same.
But life does change. On a personal note, I have now been married for 11 years and have a family of my own. The way we communicate and the way we see has changed since Society Photography began all those years ago.
Society has remained committed to its vision of wanting to be a part of our wider society and to create images that capture people’s hearts for a time infinitely longer than the life span of a text or tweet.
But here we are (belatedly perhaps), writing our first blog post on our new website.
Unremarkable of course to many but for me this is indeed something new, something challenging, and something exciting.
In the same way that walking into a new location to photograph a wedding pushes us creatively and stimulates our way of seeing, this new website is a symbol of wanting to be the best we can be and to keep challenging ourselves in every aspect of our service.
This new website is a new beginning of how we communicate and share our visual contribution with the society we live in. A society that is indeed a rich tapestry of individuals, couples, families…
We hope that in time we can become part of your society too.