award-winning raleigh wedding photography ~ wps portrait palooza
December 5, 2013

award-winning raleigh wedding photography ~ wps portrait palooza


I was honoured to be recently awarded first and fourth place in the Wedding and Portrait Society’s annual Portrait Palooza competition. “What the heck is Portrait Palooza?” you say. Well, here’s the scoop from the WPS themselves:

For those of you who don’t know, Portrait Palooza is a fun, annual event created by the WPS as a challenge for professional photographers. Here’s how it works: the WPS secures a gorgeous local venue, wedding gowns, lovely bouquets, talented hair and make-up artists, and, of course, BEAUTIFUL brides . . . and then, invites WPS member photographers to come out and photograph them all. BUT — there is a catch — as a participating photographer you have only 10 minutes to create 1 perfect shot that showcases all of the participating vendors! Oh, and did I mention that there are a bunch of other photographers working at the same time so, like on any wedding day, that one “must have” spot you picked out when you arrived – yeah, it’s probably taken. ;-)

Portrait Palooza was held at The Oaks at Salem ( in Apex. April Maness, (Owner/Coordinator), has been a great supporter of local photographers and the WPS, and we we were truly honored that she agreed to host us in her lovely home/venue! Thank you, April!

We were also extremely grateful to several other wonderful vendors who offered their time, talents and/or products to help make Portrait Palooza 2013 a huge success. I really don’t have enough words to express my gratitude to each and every one of them. Please take some time to visit each of these generous vendor’s websites, and – if you have the good fortune to work with any of these talented people at a wedding or event, then be sure to tell them how much they’re loved by the WPS!!! :-)

Watered Garden Florist —
Ginger Mullins (make-up & hair) —
Ashley Bromirski (make-up) —
Brad Matthews (FJ Wescott Representative – lighting)
Songbirds Consignment Boutique (Katy) —
Kissing Toad Productions (Hope) —

It was a really fun event with a lot of great photographers, whom I admire immensely, taking part. Here are the two images I submitted with some of my notes on the thought-process behind them:


Image One: Fourth Place

award-winning raleigh wedding photographer

The above image was awarded fourth place, but is actually my favorite on a personal level. This reflection is provided courtesy of the granite counter-top of the kitchen at the Oaks at Salem (the kitchen sink is actually just off to camera-right of the model’s hand!). When doing a quick walk-through of the location, I knew I wanted to do something different to the obvious and was immediately struck by the opportunity for working creatively with a reflection this surface gave me. The problem was quite a busy background distracting from the subject so I added some extra light courtesy of the “Ice Light” generously provided by Westcott which darkened down the background considerably. I shot wide-open on a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 L II USM in order to isolate my subject further and then burned down the rest of the background in post. This is a good example of the sort of image I work to provide in a bridal session or, time permitting on the wedding day itself.


Image Two: First Place

oaks at salem wedding

This was the image that was awarded first place. The sun had just set at this point so the sky was a very intensely warm colour. I wanted to showcase my subject of the backlit venue and the reflection in the pond, so I asked the model to position herself about a third of the way into the frame so she was almost a small detail providing some context to the image. I would have maybe liked to work out a way to make her more prominent, but, again, my subject was the venue, and so with the limitations of the exercise’s timing, this was what we came up with. A lot of the time in wedding photography, we have to make concessions and make the most of what we have in the timeline we are working under, so this is pretty par for the course!

I’d like to say a personal thanks to everyone that took part in the event, from the vendors mentioned above to the other photographers that took part. Finally a special thanks to the people of the WPS that volunteered their precious time to organize and manage this great event.

Thanks for stopping by!



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