Best Wedding Photographer in England
Winner of the 2016 UK Wedding Photographer of the Year at The Wedding Industry Awards
Oh man, where to begin with this one?!
Thursday 14th January 2016 at Cafe des Paris in London’s West End at around 9pm – It’s the national final for The Wedding Industry Awards and I’m up for Wedding Photographer of the Year. I found out back in November that I had won the award for the North West region (amongst crazy competition), and that I was through to the final. And now here I was – standing with my wife and some of my best friends (truly amazing photographers who had also won their regional awards, waiting equally nervously) as they prepared to announce the winner of the Photographer of the Year title.
“And the winner… of The Wedding Industry Awards Wedding Photographer of the Year 2016 is…”
At this point I can feel my heart beat all over my body. Suddenly something I’ve been thinking about so relentlessly for months is only seconds away…
Then hugs. So many hugs! A truly unforgettable life moment. Then someone snatched my bottle of beer out of my hand and pushed me towards the stage. I did it. UK Wedding Photographer of the Year! I was overcome with relief and elation as I jogged down the stairs to the stage to receive my award from Damian Bailey, founder of The Wedding Industry Awards, and the Sky News presenter Isabel Webster. I was in a total daze! I was handed my trophy, then immediately whisked away to give a video interview about the award where I’m sure I said some daft things because I just didn’t know who or where I was at that point. Then it was time to celebrate!
So now I’m officially the best wedding photographer in the country! What?! Wowsers. Just under five years ago I went into a meeting to tell my boss I was quitting my stable career to be a full time wedding photographer. I was absolutely convinced that I had to commit to being a photographer at that point in my life and that with full time focus I could be good at it, despite having our second baby on the way and only a handful of wedding bookings in the diary. I didn’t really think long term, I just wanted out of the rat race and the daily 7am commute.
So much amazing stuff has happened since then. Photography has redefined me and my life, and my family’s lives too. It’s gifted me some amazing, life-long friendships and some unforgettable experiences that I would never have had if I had continued ‘working’. And yet I still feel like there is so much more great stuff to come, which is truly invigorating.
I’m so lucky. I’ve won a nice little collection of awards before this one, but they were based solely on how my photos look (which is the most important thing, of course). But being a wedding photographer is more than photos and The Wedding Industry Awards title is based on everything I am and do. It’s not just based on the photos themselves, but also on what all the couples I’ve worked with had to say about me, about why they booked, about what I was like as a person, how they felt about working with me, how they felt about their photos, and how they ‘rated’ me in a number of different areas as a business. I also had to answer some questions about what I do and why I choose to do things the way I do. Then the judges took all of that into account to make their decision. It’s intense to say the least and that’s why it has become recognised as THE wedding photography award here in the UK, and why I’m absolutely beyond delighted to be the latest recipient of the prestigious trophy.
So what now? What does this award mean? Where do I go from here? Have I peaked?!
Well, winning the Wedding Industry Award means the absolute world to me. It means I’m doing lots of things very right. But for me life is always about looking ahead. 2016 is a new year, one I’m very very excited about, and this award just makes me even hungrier to keep working hard, keep giving my all at every wedding and keep trying to improve in every possible way. Every year I feel like I start with an empty portfolio and if I want to be in the running for this award again next year I just have to keep working super hard for the people who truly matter – the ones who are getting married, who are trusting me with their photos, because without their trust and enthusiasm I wouldn’t have won anything, ever.
So finally (I know this has been a lot of waffle even for me) – thanks to everyone who has played a part in this win. Not least my wife who puts up with a lot to allow me to do this job. She rules.