I've waited a year to write this. I wanted to be able to offer genuine insight as to how winning The Best Wedding Photographer in England from The Wedding Industry Awards (TWIA) for the last two years running helped transform my wedding business, but even more so, empower the couples I photograph for.
"I hear you're the best in England! [Bride] and [Groom] are so excited to have you here, they've spoken about you a lot! We can't wait to see what you come up with!"
I'm greeted by such at nearly every wedding I shoot. Sometimes followed up by "No pressure then!" and a big, cheeky grin. I don't feel any pressure though, when I start shooting a wedding I pop into a specific mindset; “Be my absolute best, right here, right now”. No moment in the day escapes without me looking for it's most creative and/or emotional perspective.
Above images by ADBY Creative
How does that empower couples? They trust me. They have no doubt in their mind that they are going to be blown away by their wedding story. That helps them relax with me for portraits and experiment with creative ideas during the day together, which only ever yields wonderfully emotive photographs.
Winning the National Finals for the Best Wedding Photographer in England is not easy. It's the polar opposite, and *the* most hotly contested award at the Nationals. So much talent.
It's the only competition I've ever entered because it's not like any other competition. Rather than just peer review (which is oftentimes biased towards specific styles), it's first founded upon the service you give to couples over the entire year.
The people that matter.
They see everything in between the initial enquiry to post album/slideshow delivery. They know the real you; your mannerisms, energy and personality while shooting a 14+ hour wedding with their loved ones. They see what you create from the environment you have, they see how you handle situations, such as limited time or challenging light. They see you more fully than any peer or judge.
That insight is invaluable. Only with the best reviews do you reach the judging stage. I know of photographers with an average score of 9.75 out of 10, over 70 different ratings, that didn't make the Regional shortlist. It's that hard. To even get listed for the Regional awards is a wonderful achievement. To go on to win the Regionals, and then the Nationals - which puts you up against the best of each region - is something I am immensely proud of. To do that two years running was even harder, as each year the competition grows and grows.
But I'm not entering this year.
While three years in a row, a hat-trick, would have been wonderful (grin), I'm now part of the official TWIA team! After winning the 2014 Nationals the founder of TWIA, Damian, invited me to join the photography judging panel. I was both grateful and excited to do. The next step.
I am forever in debt of TWIA for giving me an experience nothing short of life changing. Truly, truly magical. I wholeheartedly encourage professionals to enter - it could do the same for you.
Thank you too to all of the couples who have trusted me to capture their day through my vision. It really is a gift that you have given to me, and that's why I always do my absolute best for you in return. That gift is the reason I love what I do with every fibre of my being. Nothing is more rewarding!