The stories behind the images awarded in the 2018 international wedding photographer of the year awards

award winning images

When I was younger and my career as a wedding photographer was just beginning, I used to swoon over each years selections of wedding photography awards. I would make a point of sitting down and looking through all the best competitions at the winners, usually seeing the same names pop up. I remember when International Wedding Photographer of the Year (IWPOTY) released a competition in 2017 I was completely enamored by the winning and runner-up entires. They were the most beautiful wedding photos I'd ever seen, all collected together for my thirsty eyes. I couldn't get enough.

I've always dreamed of having one of our images selected, and believed that it was possible. 2018 was our first year where I even considered entering any (it's not free to enter so it's not as simple as just throwing up some photos that got a lot of likes on instagram - it's an investment and takes an incredible amount of time choosing images that have power (not just IG like power!) and editing them to perfection).

When the 2018 IWPOTYA opened I spent days curating and editing my submissions. We showed a lot of people we respected (thanks especially to James Simmons and Benj Haisch, your opinion and encouragement meant so much and you helped us decide on some of the entries that placed!). Instead of submitting them with the belief, 'why am I even doing this, I'll never win,' I submitted and said, 'I will win. These images are incredible and theyr'e going to win.'

Talk about speaking into being ;) Manifesting was part of it, but obviously it wasn't my passionate beliefs that won us the awards, but rather the beautiful human beings who offered us these stunning moments. 99& of what makes up a good photo is connection - the 1% is how we capture + edit it. So thank you to our beautiful clients and friends who offered us these precious moments of connection - you are why we do what we do.

top 10 single capture

Sigma 35mm f1.4 on Canon 5D Mk IV
f1.4, 1/2000, ISO 400
Edited with Seasons Preset

I think what makes this photo so powerful to us is the emotion, the connection (arms and hands), and the blue and pink hues of the sunset above the groomsmen and bridesmaids. This photo has diversity, deep connection and genuine emotion. It is also soulful, because it's capturing an intimate moment not just of connection between friends, but connection to God.

top 10 single capture

Fujifilm 56mm f1.2 on Fujifilm XT1
f1.4, 1/800, ISO 800
Edited with Seasons Preset

While this photo was taken in 2015, I decided to submit it for the awards because the power over this moment still takes my breath away. Kyle took hold of his bride's face and, under the lightest rain beginning to fall, he prayed for them. He prayed big, strong, beautiful prayers over their marriage and Amy's face says it all. I still get chills thinking about this moment.

Fun fact - in the original image I cut off his head (it was a cropped, close and intimate image), but when I was preparing it for submission I extended the field and filled in his head... ;)


Canon 5D Mk III and Sigma 35mm f1.4
f1.4, 1/200, ISO 3200
Edited with Seasons Preset

One of the very last photos of their day, this photo was taken almost in the dark (as you can see by the ISO!). Andrew and Jen had already popped this bottle of champagne (here!), and he grabbed another bottle and said 'I wonder what would happen if I shook it more?' and it went EVERYWHERE. I mean, everywhere. I was soaked in champagne and the joy and elation on their faces is exactly why this image is so mesmerizing.


Canon 5D Mk III and Sigma 35mm f1.4
f1.4, 1/5000, ISO 200
Edited with Seasons Preset

What is it about this? It's hard to find words, but this photo holds so much warmth, light, joy, peace, relief, surrender, and trust.

Jen and Andrew had known each other for 7 years and had dated before, but had just spent three years broken up. This photo was taken only a few weeks after getting back together, and I honestly can't find words for the peace they had and the joy they emitted to everyone around them.

overall winner!
single capture


OKAY WHAT. We wanted to include this because even though we didn't take this photo, this photo of US (yes, that's us!) WON the whole category of Single Capture! To put it into perspective, check out the photo that took first place for Single Capture in 2017... yep.

This photo was taken of us at our Sydney Wedding Reception which was one of the best days of my life (and also bittersweet). Being literally surrounded by my beautiful family in this image is so special, because within weeks of this photo being taken I would move across the world to marry the love of my life Camron. 

James Simmons is crazy talented, kind, generous, a calming and enjoyable presence, and his images are some of the best in the entire world. It is an honor to be in this image.