The 2018 Best of the Best Wedding Photo Contest – Interview with the Judges

Photo by The Twins

It’s that time of year again! The 2018 Best of the Best Wedding Photo Contest opened for submissions last week, and we’re over the moon to see what you all have been up to this past year. If you haven’t submitted to the contest yet, we’ve got a very special treat for you today. Anni GrahamPeople Truelove Tellers, and The Twins are here to share their insights on photography, contests, and more. This is your chance to get a peek behind the judging curtains so that you can submit confidently.

In your opinion, what makes a great photograph?

Anni Graham: I believe that a great photo tells a captivating story. The subject is the focus of the photo, but it’s captured in a way that layers creative composition, light, and emotion and makes you pause and reflect on what you are seeing and feeling when you see it.

People Truelove Tellers: I think any image that moves you inside, that makes you feel or evoke feelings is a great photograph. The good thing about wedding photography is that we have a huge spectrum of emotions. And emotional photos connect with people. Although they are not the protagonists of the images. Emotions are universal and wedding photos can connect on a universal level.

The Twins: There are good photographs, and there are great photographs. Good photographs go in your client’s album, and proudly on your blog. Some will get hundreds of Likes on Instagram. But a great photograph is the shot that makes your heart somersault and your tummy flip when you look at the back of your camera. You just *know*. It’s instinctual, but when you break it down into its elements a great photograph will have three things – light, composition, and action. Bang. All three.

Photo by Anni Graham

What is your process when it comes to selecting images to submit to contests?

Anni Graham: I start with a collection of my favorites that I have taken throughout the year. These are photos that I loved the second that I took them, and probably edited before I could go to sleep that night. I then go through and sort out any of the photos that don’t follow the basic rules of composition – obstructing horizon lines, messy foregrounds, facial expressions or hand gestures that might be distracting, anything I could have missed. I then go through and choose a small handful of favorites – photos that I wish I was in, that are like no other photo that is out there, that tells a captivating story, and most importantly makes you feel something. I usually end up with my top 3 and if I have the time, I might ask a fellow photographer or friend to tell me what they think about my final submission.

People Truelove Tellers: I try to forget about the photographs that I think the jury may like and focus on the ones that I like, in which I am defined as a person and a photographer. My motivation when it comes to photographing weddings is to connect with people, look for beauty through emotions. Emotions + Light + Composition are the pillars of my way of photographing.a

The Twins: First of all, instinct. You might not be able to explain why that shot works for you, but what the heck, the best things in life – like love – can’t be explained. Learn to listen to your gut. If you need a more scientific approach then dissect that image. Is there showstopping light? Is the composition and framing spot on? What action is happening in the frame? If it has all three, it’s worth a punt on the entrance fee. Or if you don’t trust yourself, maybe you’ve been looking at that image too damn long, what does social media say? Chances are an image with lots of Likes will have an edge over the rest of your work.

Photo by People Truelove Tellers

Describe the imagery you’re hoping to see when reviewing submissions.

Anni Graham: I want to see submissions that are unique. Whether it’s a photo that you creatively composed or a moment that you were lucky to have been in the right place at the right time, I want to see how you are different. And more than anything, I want to pause and reflect on what I see, how it makes me feel, and what story you are telling through your subject.

People Truelove Tellers: I imagine epic locations, incredible lights, and a jaw-dropping aesthetic. But what I’m looking forward to most is real emotions.

The Twins: Originality. It’s so easy to take the comfortable option and follow the pack. The wedding photography industry is incredibly homogenized – same poses, similar locations, uniform filters. My eyes crave something different. Something that will kick me in the guts and make me take notice. It’s an old cliche, but be yourself – everyone else is already taken.

Photo by The Twins

What advice do you have for photographers who are submitting their work for the first time?

Anni Graham: Submit photos that you love first and foremost. It’s easy to get sucked into the vortex of likes and public opinion, but your photos will automatically be unique and interesting if you trust your gut and share what you love. You are the artist, Instagram isn’t. I also think that it’s not a game of submitting 50 and hoping that 1 wins, it’s better to cull them down to the best 3 or 5 and the quality of selected work will speak volumes compared to a larger submission of work.

People Truelove Tellers: If you had to leave a legacy through 10-15 photos, choose the ones that really talk about you, not the ones that you think are more trendy.

The Twins: You. Are. Enough. And remember that fortune shines on the brave. We won the Grand Prize in the first competition we ever entered, and yes – it was one of those images I couldn’t stop looking at on the back of the camera on the wedding day. Trust your instinct. Don’t enter what you think you should enter.

Photo by Anni Graham

Any other advice you wish to give to those entering this year’s destination contest?

Anni Graham: My favorite photos have always made me ask the question, “Woah, how did that photographer SEE that?” Sometimes we are just lucky, we are in the right place at the right time, and something magical happens. But I also think that there isn’t as much luck as there is a refined sense of observation and awareness and that’s what I want to see.

People Truelove Tellers: Focus on what matters most, the real emotions. They are the ones that give value to our work, which makes it timeless, connect with other human beings and make us grow as photographers and as a person.

The Twins: Keep shooting. The key to being up there with the best isn’t using the latest preset, shooting the “perfect” elopement, or having a carefully curated Instagram page, it lies in becoming the best photographer you can be. Learn your craft inside-out, upside-down, and back-to-front. Shoot on film cameras, learn about light, visit art galleries. And try not to compare your work to that of other wedding photographers for therein lies the route to madness.

Photo by People Truelove Tellers

Big thanks to our guest judges for sharing their wisdom and contest tips!

Ready to submit? Be sure to submit your favorite wedding photos from the past year by 11/28/2018 at 11:59 PM Central Time.

Submit here!

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