I get asked all the time what awards I've won. And what magazines I've been published in. My answer has always been this:
Pretty much nothing.
I've never bothered to submit my work to competitions or magazines. I've always had an attitude of "I'm happy to win an award or have work published if I'm ASKED to do so, but not if I ask if I may". I don't want to come across as a jerk who thinks his work is the best. It isn't.
In 2015, things changed, and I was asked on one or two occasions by publications if they could publish my work, and that was such a privilege.
At the end of every year, there are usually 3 or 4 articles about "Top 10 wedding photographers in the world" that go totally viral. The photos in these articles are great, and the photographers are great too. My gripe with these articles is that 99% of the time, the only photographers on these lists are the photographers who pay an annual fee to be part of the organisation that wrote the article in the first place. These articles ignore ALL photographers who are NOT part of these organisations, no matter how good those photographers might be. This isn't the case with every one of these "Top 10" lists, but it is the case most of the time.
Similarly, there's a huge awards competition here in South Africa, where various wedding vendors sign up, pay the fee to be part of the listing, and then the "Top photographer of the year" is selected from that list. Any photographer who did not sign up and pay the fee is ignored.
And I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Being "Top 10" out of a pool consisting ONLY of other people who paid money to be entered feels a little like winning a Golf Tournament due to 99% of the competitors being disqualified only for wearing the wrong socks. I just don't get it. I considered entering that competition last year (and this year), but just couldn't bring myself to do it.
Being "Top 10" amongst everyone, with no restrictions - now THAT feels like something that matters to me.
SLR Lounge is a world-class website tailored somewhat to Wedding and Portrait photography. It features tutorials, articles, and guides written by some of the best photographers in the world. It's a site that I learned much of what I know today from, and the writers are people I've respected since I started shooting.
Two days ago, SLR Lounge published "150 Best International Wedding Photographers for 2016". This list was NOT made up of people who threw down some cash to be chosen. It was put together by actual photographers, who went through thousands of portfolios, analysed and curated the keepers, and then got opinions from other industry leaders. The list is made up of photographers from around the world.
There's a bunch of really, really great photographers on that list, and then there's some dude in South Africa who edits photos in his pajamas 3-4 times a week. He is me.
I couldn't really wrap my head around it when I saw my name on this list. I mean, the people on this list are literally the best in the industry, like the dudes from Nordica.
So, my point: As someone who doesn't place much emphasis on Photographic "awards", this particular award feels to me like an award that matters, and I'm absolutely honoured to be on a list with such incredible photographers.
Huge thanks to the folks at SLR Lounge for this. Really.
By the way - the images in this post come from Jenni and Coenraad's wedding. These two were lovely, and their relationship was something that really displayed true, authentic, unconditional love.