One thing that's become increasingly apparent over the year is that our community is not only one of the most supportive places on the internet but that our community members are both hugely talented AND hugely invested in what they do.
That's never been more apparent in the last few weeks week, when I asked people from around the community to share a shot they've taken this year that they love or that they're proud of.
For the majority of SNAPsters who shared an image, the image itself was just a tiny part of the story and they love the work they're making because of the stories and the people in their images.
It reminded me of Karl's post about his experience at SNAP where he said
"On the night before my presentation a group of us collected around a warm fire in the workshop lodge. We spoke about the industry and we spoke about something quite fresh and interesting - the energy that it draws from the practitioners. And one thing stood out from that talk which in over my twenty years in the photography industry I have never heard as clear as I heard on this night - these photographers were tired. Not because of the industry. Not because of politics or continuous moving posts as we shift from one technology to another. They were tired from the falling in love with their clients. Because in order to do this it means an emotional investment far beyond any wedding photography How To book or YouTube video on lighting and technique. This was further supported by my visit from workshop to workshop where I witnessed photographers showing lovely aesthetics yes - but there were stories behind the images that went so deep that each speaker knew that they were not only image makers. I realised that for these folks who attended this festival what made them so unique was that they were memory makers and they truly felt a privilege in that. The commitment to deliver from a point of privilege was an emotionally invested act"
The commitment to deliver from a point of privilege is an emotionally invested act.
Our community is invested in their work and creative development. Our community is invested in growth and being better. Our community is invested in being successful business people and successful photographers, but most of all our community is invested making art and documenting moments that are meaningful both for themselves and the clients they serve.
I am so, so proud of what the SNAP community has achieved this year and we'll be sharing some of their achievements with you in the New Year, along with their end of year round ups, but for now here are the images they love from 2015.
"This is definitely not my prettiest or most bloggable picture but I love it for its ordinariness. Weddings are special occasions and I really enjoy capturing the emotion and joy they evoke but ultimately they're just a bunch of normal people in nice clothes and it's fun to capture that too."
"I'm so proud of this one for a number of reasons. It was my last wedding at 37 weeks pregnant and the couple stretched to pay my price as she really loves my style. It made me feel so honoured to be the most expensive thing they had in their wedding. I managed to get this photo that I'd visualised in my head and I managed to nail it technically too!"
"One of my images was shortlisted to be Best Image of the Year for the Belle Lumière magazine. I'm very proud of it because it was the last image of the day, I drove 4 hours to go to this location. I gave them my best as always, even though this was not my easiest shoot. This image was shot with my Pentax 645N, and it was one of my first film-only session."
"This is one of my favourite photos from this year. It's taken with my humble Sony Z3 compact during my travels across Northern Italy this summer. It makes me thankful for having the opportunity to travel and proud that I bit the bullet and went alone which was a bit scary but amazingly rewarding (and has set the tone of being brave for the rest of the year as I embarked on my wedding photography journey)."
"Lots of great weddings packed full of emotion for me this year and I was going to offer an image of high emotion but then I kept coming back to this late evening dancing photo that happened by pure chance - and I think it's the lucky and fortuitous moments that are to be cherished. As someone once said 'The harder I work, the luckier I get'."
"This photo was taken recently in the Lake District the day after Storm Desmond struck. It was THE most challenging wedding that I've photographed / didn't photograph (if that makes sense!)."
"This one stands out for me because I decided this year I want to stay later at weddings and get all the gritty drama that happens when everyone's had one too many. All the fun stuff happens after the first dance...
I also like this one because my waiting game and considered positioning paid off - I saw the shots on the bar, asked the bartender if I could stand behind the bar for a better angle and waited for ages while the guys faffed over the shot. In the end they did a Tequila Suicide, which I did not expect! I'm also shooting in B&W now, which I'm starting to love more and more."
"This is one of my favourites from this year - not necessarily because of the colour punch or it working as a more dynamic portrait - but because of the moment it captures. That relaxed togetherness. That head resting on shoulders. That wholeheartedly content smile. And of course that belly laugh. Getting portraits like this for people like these is something pretty damn special and something I'll be aiming to hold onto."
"This is one of the shots I'm proud of from this year. I just love the emotion caught in it in bride Alexis's face. This was during the ceremony, whilst a friend sang Nick Cave's Into My Arms, Alexis and Steve sat on a bench next to where I was stood. Alexis put her hand on Steve's and Steve placed his other on top and I just saw her looking at him in such a loving way before some tears of happiness appeared."
"I love this one especially as the couple are friends of mine and it was such a fantastic day celebrating them. I also have a big thing for water towers!"
" In all honesty I've found this the hardest few months of photography ever. I'm feel incredibly deflated about it all. This photo however makes me smile. It reminded of the moments we see that our couples don't. I love the lines & shadows, the simplicity. I can't tell you all the technicalities behind it, because in all honesty it's simple. In a few months where I've really struggled I'm just glad I get to share in precious and personal moments and I'm trusted. Photography is a lot more than taking photos. It's the joy I get from sharing with very lovely people that keeps me going and that I get to work with my best bud."
"Just the simplicity of family love down the generations. Love this."
"This one because despite busting a nut with everything else I made sure the things I promised myself came to fruition. A 10 day drive around Iceland in June and a trip to the Isle of Skye in October. Which this photo is of. Making loved ones a priority again has been more beneficial to me than anything else I've done yet I devoted so little time to doing it in the past. I love that I've a great photo of me and the boy together on a road trip and the view itself secondary."
"I was really happy that I slowed down at a wedding to try do this double exposure. I'm looking forward to perfecting it at future weddings as I love the look and also the creative feeling. It's exciting and energising to try something new with your work."
"This is one of my favourite moonlit landscape shots ever. Also one of my fav astro photographs."
"Found it really difficult to choose - there's a separate blow your own trumpet thread in another group I'm in, and I don't know if I have any crowning achievements to celebrate. I have, however, shot some wonderful weddings with great couples and really found my personal groove style wise, shot from the hip more and lived for the moment. So I could pick one of those, but instead Ive chosen this one. It's not technically perfect, but I love the mood."
"I think my favourite image of the year is probably this one from my most recent album shoot with Lucy Ward. If I shot it again I might shoot it a bit wider, but I just love that between us we created absolutely everything you see in the image. We spent multiple days planning and crafting and listening to ridiculous things on Spotify, and it was so exciting seeing all of the hard work we put it finally come to fruition. I also did all of the make-up / swearing at gold leaf etc.
I've been working with Lucy for the last six years (more on that here, if anyone's vaguely interested!) and in some ways it feels a bit like everything we've done previously was leading up to this shoot - we've always tried to do something a bit different, and it's been so much fun seeing where our images end up."
"For me, this year was about embracing 'mistakes' and trusting my instincts. With the responsibility of this job it can so be easy to focus on perfection but often my absolute favourite image from a shoot is a result of a good idea gone wrong, something I just couldn't have planned for. I love this shot from one of my engagement shoots. Testimony to watching, waiting, following through and not being quick to delete. Can't wait for 2016 to capture more beautiful imperfection!"
"I guess it has to be... our first ever, self timer, self portrait and the first photo of us three together..."
Emma Jean Leivers
"I've just done Jo Browns workshop and it was all about getting back to what you love. Nothing to do with weddings. All to do with your passion and finding your path, I'm hoping it will give me a boost in confidence to just shoot what I love and not be afraid to put more personal work out there. Im hoping I can bring this into Snap and break down my own fears... A lot of which everyone will relate to in here!
I've got a load of dark room kit and some personal projects I want to do for 2016 so I intend to shoot for me a little more! This image was just about finding some light, nothing more. I found, I shot, I'm proud that that was my moment when I was true to myself."
"Love this one from this year."
"I am still very much at the beginning, as most of you know, but it all started with SNAP for me, being a real kick-ass, eye-opening experience so it feels right to put my own milestone down here now. I finally feel that I am on the right track.. or at least there is a track now!! This photo is from a portfolio building, family session, that I shot with a purely documentary, storytelling approach.
When I look at the photo, I am reminded of the liberating feeling that comes with this style of shooting, the inner joy I felt every time I clicked with my brand new FF, knowing that every dark lit home is a possible playground from now on and that looking for those "gifts" and putting that extra effort in will all have to work out at the end, resulting in a happy client... and a happier me!"
Putting together my favourite images of 2015 blogpost and this one really stood out for me as representative of the things that important to me in my photography. Raw and unstaged emotion - not alway the prettiest but sure to be the photo that conjures up those emotions in 10 years time.
This picture sums up what I enjoyed most about this year. Breaking away from my norms. Working with a couple who trusted me to do my thing and loved what I gave them; convincing a couple of super shy kids to have their picture taken by getting them to do dinosaur impressions (the smallest boy had been crying just moments before); producing a set of images that reflected my view of an amazing day, rather than the set of pics I thought I was expected to produce (this was the only pic of these kids - they went home straight after the ceremony). This picture makes me immensely happy - as I know it does the couple and the parents of the little kiddies. So I'm proud of it. I'm proud to say "I made this". Not just the picture...but the moment.
"I love this for the raw emotion. Being given away by her stepdad, just 5 months after her precious mum passed away very suddenly, arriving at her husband to be's side it all became too much.
This is what it's about for me."
"It's got to be this pic of my rascal Olivia, in our new hometown of lovely Folkestone. This photo is totally 'her'.. it sums up her personality, joy, rascal-ness (new word), feistiness and all the other reasons I love her.
Taken shortly after Snap, after I resolved to take more pics of my loved ones this year."
"I'm proud of this photo, because I came up with the idea on the fly while the bridesmaids were hanging out in this room. I took a test shot of the bridesmaids standing around to make sure the idea would work. Four hours later, I dragged the bride and groom up to the room and brought the idea to life. It's always a great feeling when you are successful at executing your ideas."
"This was one of my favourite shows this year. The show was in the vocalist's tattoo shop and it mainly required flash as it was at night but there were these small rays of light from upstairs coming through the slits in the stairs and I just saw this moment and it became one of my favourite photos ever, even if it's not the best photo. Plus I've been working with them since then which has just been incredible."
"This is a shot from very recent set. I had nothing to expect, Finland in November is like a black hole and cold as hell. When I took this shot I underexposed it and when I looked it on my LCD screen I was very very surprised about the dramatic sky. It didn't looked so good live. One of the latest set on this year and probably one of the best portraits. Lovely couple!"
"This isn't just an image I like. It's more what it represents for me that makes it one of my "best" this year. This year was very important for me in terms of work. Thanks to SNAP I decided to jump back into wedding photography with full force and more faith than talent. This is from the first wedding I booked this year all on my own for a complete stranger (i.e. not a friend or friend of a friend or family). I was really proud of myself for doing it. The day itself was insane and I only got a handful of images I felt really good about (the bride ran very very late) but, it was the first time in a long time I felt like I had seen a wedding through start to finish."
"I'm really proud of this photo because it's a mix of several things 1) a very challenging situation 2) A real moment- I didn't ask them to kiss and 3) Represents the type of work that I really want to create. I stayed late to photograph the sparkler exit, and as it got dark, the venue turned on those horrid orange external lights that look terrible in photos. I knew the whole area would be bathed in a terrible orange light and i needed to think of a few options to make the shot work. I had front lit them as well most of the way down the sparklers, and at the end, I quickly dropped my front light and kept shooting. I love that they stopped to kiss at the end. It's one of those shots that I feel like I thought through a problem and just made it work, and then the photography god's gave me a special moment at the end as a reward."
"I am venturing on a post- photographic / anti-IG aesthetic : somewhere between snapshot and what i have coined rawshot. How far can one take photography to the point of dismantling it and still hold the currencies we have come to trust - beauty, truth, provocation, message, synthesis... This is a recent series from our company's greeting card."
"It was a bloody tough decision, but it has to be this one. This bride was the type you dream of; laughing and excited one minute, nervous and emotional the next. I crouched down right in front of her for ages, just snapping her having her make-up done and was treated to this raw emotion right as her make-up was completed. The MUA was happy lol. More of this next year please!"
"This one, not because after the wedding Dave (groom) thanked me for this photo as it's the only time his Father had ever hugged him, and I had documented it which made me cry."
"One of my favourites."
"It's the in-between moments that are getting to me right now - they're more truthful than anything that I could set up or project onto my couples. I'd just finished a portrait session where I did the whole stand apart, hold hands, heads together, close your eyes etc etc bizzo, but this is the image I like the most. It also helps that this has massive nostalgia factor as it was shot in NZ, with bright blue summer sky, rural road, and two mates of mine - reminds me so much of my home country!"
"Ok so this year was a BIG BIG BIG BIG BIG year for me. I have finally reached a place where I am proud to say, yes that's me. I did that. I had the most weddings ever to date this year. I had my first EVER wet wedding (yep, how did I avoid that one for so long!) I also tried a whole new take on family photography and its been amazing. It has made me appreciate my own little family so much more and that I actually do kick butt being able to raise my kids and have my own business and do both at the same time, which is not easy but it makes it all much more worth it."
"Here's one of mine that I love, a selfie in the mountains in Oman. Happiness to me as it's a celebration of many things; life, love, light, marriage, photography, nature... I know I have everything to be grateful for and really felt on top of the world right there. As Marianne said at Snap, you remember how you felt in the moment, and that's what makes this photo a closely guarded treasure in my little world."
"For me I feel like I've taken a lot of images this year that have represented a turning point or a shift. This is an in-between image that I took after the formal portrait was done. I love that it tells a story without anyone being fully present in the frame. The water bottle to the right is a big step in me letting go of the need for perfection - I probably would have cropped it out before but I think it adds to the image.
I love the colour too.
I have spent a lot of time in the past wishing my work was soulful and ethereal, with those soft muted tones that a lot of people love at the moment. My big lesson from this year is to embrace the colour and mess that my eye is drawn to."
This is so hard, so I think I'm going to go with the newest self portrait I did. The love and I are both photographers and we love taking photos of each other. We hardly ever do it of ourselves, so we decided to do one the other day. We had no idea what to do, how to pose, what we wanted. All we knew is we had a field, barely any light, and smoke bombs. It's now my most liked image I've posted on Facebook, and it just shows me that you should never doubt your skills.
I learned what I know through self portraiture, so it's always been something personal to me, in terms of technical and spiritual growth.
It's exciting to see the images in your head come to fruition.
"I conjured two Doctor Seuss-style truffala trees outside the Oxford's Radcliffe Camera as part of The Big Draw festival in September. The man himself studied in one of the colleges off the square. This is my fave pic from the day (taken on my phone so not as fancy as the rest). The kid in it was delighted by the unexpected trees and had a little happy dance in front of them. I made the trees while unexpectedly moving house and the efforts my friends put in to help this happen was epic. I heart my job and my friends on days like these."
"Although I am a confident chick, I don't always feel confident about my photography so I did hesitate about posting this. After sleeping on things overnight, I decided I'm actually quite proud of this particular image and how it came about.
I thought about the concept in the middle of night (my best thinking time) and duly went scouting for material to make it a reality for the shoot the following day.
For me, I wanted this maternity shoot to be different to anything I had done before and for it to be moody, soft and all about the beauty of the mother and her obvious love for her bump/unborn child.
I'm actually really surprised everything turned out as my head planned it!"
"I love this one just for the moment, it makes me emotional just looking at it. It reminds me of why I love photographing weddings."
"I keep forgetting to play around a bit more with in camera double exposures as I love the effects you can create and there is always a certain element of surprise with the outcome. But sometimes I do remember and sometimes, it's worth all the faffing around..."
"This is one of my favourite shots of the year as it represents a big post SNAP shift for me. It was the last shot of the night, I'd actually packed my bag and was about to get in the car when I saw the festoon lights and heard Andy Gaines words ringing in my ears- about both making the last shot epic and seeing the gifts. When usually I might have just got in the car and gone, I saw an opportunity and got my couple outside, they love this shot too and had it printed huge! It was also me pushing myself out of my comfort zone as I'm not massively confident with OCF but I gave it my best and I was pleased with the result!"
It's been a very difficult year for me personally. Letting go of my marriage has been the hardest thing I've done in my life so far. A few months after it happened a close friend invited me to her home in Norway to escape for a week. She is currently recovering from Breast cancer and together we spent the week doing nothing but talk, relax, appreciate our lives & discuss our futures. It was so inspiring.
On the flight back into Heathrow, I was beginning to feel anxious but as I looked out of the plane window and saw the sunbeams bursting through the clouds, they made me smile and calmed me down. It was so beautiful and I took this picture for me on my cracked iPhone. It was for no one else but me. To remind me of just how beautiful this world can be and to appreciate every moment. "Hello London, you look f**king beautiful" was then uploaded to FB and from there on it went viral. In all honesty I did not expect it to have been as successful as it has.
This is the first time I've told the full story behind the shot. It's a very special & poignant image for me.
Seeing it being used as a featured entry in the Sony World Photography Awards is fabulous and releasing the limited edition prints has been so uplifting and encouraging for me to keep chasing my dreams & creating new ones. I love the idea that it hangs on many walls.
I'm most excited about my future and all the epic sunsets that await.
"This is my favourite image of the year. I think I captured something really intimate about the couple in the midst of a hectic wedding day schedule that made me understand them and their relationship better"
Ahmani and I work as a duo and we recently did our first styled shoot. Im so proud we managed to create images we both love, despite the day not going to plan. It took a lot of planning for this shoot to come together.
"I think is my favourite image this year because it's the key image I had in my head going into the shoot and I'm really, really happy with the execution. I also love just how easy it all was. Grace had no problem being put into an awkward position. In fact didn't even bat an eyelid when I asked her. Also, the team gave me full reign to do the whole shoot in any way I wanted, and this is very rare. But also how you get the best results. The model still looks beautiful. The dress still looks beautiful. But we've got something a little different. A deconstructed image. Or high fashion and anti fashion at the same time".
"This is a photo that I love because of what it represents to me personally. Becca's mum was the one helping her get ready, rather than her bridesmaids. There were many fleeting tender mother and daughter moments but this one, the one where she was helping her daughter put on her shoes, actually made me well up. It must have been 20-odd years since the last time she did this for her daughter. It made me think about my own daughters who are teenagers now, and how long it has been since they needed me to do this, and, well, just how much I love them. God I love my job."
"The power of photography can be a bit overwhelming. It's hard really to put into words what this photo means to me. Every time I look into this I am immediately teleported not just back to that moment but the journey leading to it.
I took the risk to photograph a wedding that was week before our baby was due. It was my first wedding of the year in January. I was naturally nervous but praying that the the baby doesn't pop out early before its due date on the same day on the same day i was shooting the wedding. In the early hours of the wedding day, around 3am, my wife's water broke but she didn't mention anything. She wished me well and off i went to the wedding in the morning. After i finished shooting the wedding at around midnight when i checked on her, she tells me she's in hospital with her mother, ready for labour. Of course i did not believe her... until she sent me a photo. I rushed to hospital and 11 hours later, our daughter was born. Im so grateful i was able to be there by the skin of my teeth. By far the proudest moment of my life."
"I love second shooting for Babb, and there are many pics I have taken with her that I am proud of, but this one was a bit different.
Laura and Brian asked us to shoot some film. When you're mixing with digital what's the point in smooth, low grain Portra? So I grabbed some high ISO, dirty, grainy, noisy film and got into the dance floor.
This is definitely the direction I want to go in my film work."
"Magic rain & heart filled puddles. Caeli & Helen are two beautiful souls and their portraits are some of my favourites, the whole day was magical. To share part of Caeli's speech:
“Air like water fills the space that contains it.
Water like light fills the space that contains it.
Light like love fills the space that contains it”
She said she could not think of a better metaphor for love and I couldn’t agree more, as I see light and love filling weddings when I shoot. Roll forward a few hours and the planned sparkler exit at midnight, to mark the start of Independence Day (Caeli is American) was instead a torrential down pour, I said, “do you want to come and dance in the rain”. To my absolute joy, they gave me a “hell yeah”. Helen ran out first in the direction this last photo was taken. When I shot their day you could really feel the love for them fill the room. I get serious goosebumps each time I look at this photo as I can’t believe the serendipity, even the puddles felt the power of love with the water filling the heart shape that contained it right at their feet.."
"So much going on in this pic. Shot from ground."
"Father of the groom being comforted by step dad of the groom.
The emotion, one of the hardest things I've come to achieve is not be afraid to get in close with that 35mm."
"I think this is one of my favs. I love the light, the venue in the middle of nowhere and because was a Mexican - Spanish wedding the mix of cultures meant we spoke the same language. This wedding was awesome, lots of fun.
"This is my favourite shot of this year. I like the image, but most importantly it reminds me of a spontaneous shoot with a small and trusted group of creatives who all worked hard adding their own input in the hope of creating something beautiful. No guidelines, no deadlines - just art."
"Liz booked me for a shoot because she realised that as a 30 something unmarried woman she didn't have any nice photos of herself. All she had were selfies and dodgy blurred photos from nights out on the town. I really respect her for this. We were together for just an hour but she was up for getting creative and trying different things. This shot of Liz is looking north up Goldborne Road in West London. I love this street and all the little eccentricities that are there; but most of all the mighty TRELLICK TOWER is in the background. Love that big concrete brute. So West London. Oh, and the image also allowed for me to feature a moody stormy sky - something which I get to feature a lot in my imagery and is become a bit of a trademark."
"I'm really proud of this shot as it wasn't set up. The groom was getting ready next door to the bride and there was a bit of a rush. As the bride's father collected his tie I caught this of the final moments of prep of the bride and the groom. It's how I love to shoot when I can, to be able to take time to step back and of course it's wide.....which is my bag!"
"I photographed my musical hero and I had the kahunas to ask him for this portrait. I have a lot that I'm proud of from this year but when this shot was used on the cover of a music magazine it was definitely my proudest moment."
"It's been such a hard thing to choose. This is one of my absolute favourites though. The location was incredible, and they were such an easy couple to work with."
"2015 was a great year but this shoot at Tate was quite special. I actually didn't expect that it would be so amazing and I would get so many awesome photos, it was hard to choose but I think this is my favourite. I'm proud of it because it's so simple yet it has that something in it."
SNAPsters, you smashed it. Well done on an awesomely inspiring 2015. We're so glad that SNAP Photography Festival played a small part in your journey this year.