Wedding photography is one of the toughest genres in the industry, with no second chances and a demand for coolness under pressure and split-second timing. In short, it’s not for the faint-hearted and the best of the best have been recognised in the International Wedding Photographer of the Year awards.
The photo contest is now in its second year, boasts a prize pool of over $30,000 and this year’s overall winner was announced as Dan O’Day, who took the top title for a spectacular image of a couple in smoky light. Along with the prestige of the title, Australian photographer O’Day takes home a prize bundle that includes a Nikon D850 DSLR.
O’Day commented on his winning image; ‘It was our last stop for portraits on our way back to Jess and Des’ wedding at the National Art School in Sydney. For an hour we’d been running around the outskirts of the venue like kids in a playground, dropping smoke bombs and chasing what little golden Australian light we get at the end of the our time for portraits (it was my first and only time using coloured smoke bombs, so it was pretty hit and miss). In the final 5 minutes of sun, while Jess and Des were bee-lining it to their party, they walked through a slice of light coming off the roof from the building around us. There were partying guests, buildings, fire extinguishers on walls, and about 20 cars behind them in this shot, but in that moment and the light sliver, I saw the residual smoke hanging in the air and thought ‘sweet’.
It was a good year for Australian wedding photographers as fellow country man Jason Tey took the Runner Up award for an ‘out of this world image’ of a happy couple. Jason explained the story behind the shot; ‘Denny and Vivi travelled all the way to us in Perth, Western Australia from Hong Kong for their pre-wedding photos. They specifically requested the night sky as part of their session because in a city as dense as Hong Kong, you hardly see the brilliance of the stars. This image was taken in the Lancelin sand dunes, a beach-side town about 140 kilometres north of Perth. Out there it is so dark you’re left in awe at how vast and magnificent the universe is. After we located the core of the Milky Way, I worked out a beautifully balanced composition. There was a strange glow in the distance (most likely from street lamps) which I thought would ruin the image but it looked like a sunrise so we used that glow to create a silhouette.’
You can see more of the winning images on the IWPOTY website, but we’ve got a further selection of commended photos to fill you full of inspiration right here…