The winners of the first annual International Wedding Photographer of the Year competition were just announced, and they’re pretty incredible.
A team of judges sifted through nearly 1,000 entries from 49 countries around the world; the final collection ― which consists of 96 images and three wedding albums ― represents the best of what the top photographers in the industry have to offer.
“Many wedding photographers today are working with couples who are willing to go the extra distance and aren’t afraid to show their true colors,” competition director and wedding photographer Luke Simon told HuffPost. “And [they] aren’t afraid to let their chosen professional show their true colors and interpret the wedding day how he or she sees it ― not by following some unwritten scripts or a photo list from the back of a magazine.”
The competition was divided into nine categories: album, black and white, bridal party, couple portrait, dance floor, epic location, from above, single capture and solo portrait.
You can see the highest-scoring image in each category below, along with a description from the photographer.
Best solo portrait
“Paige and Daniel had a super low-key wedding with the reception taking place in their parents’ backyard with about 25 guests. Thankfully their parents have one of the most beautiful backyards on the planet, along the banks of Cougar Creek in Canmore, Alberta. After a short and unpredictable storm, we were treated to the most amazing double rainbow. Lanny and I got low into the creek bed so we could remove the houses and simplify the frame to the rainbow, mountain and Paige, with her dress billowing in the wind.” ― Erika Mann of Two Mann Studios
Best single capture
“The child was the son of the bride. As everyone stood up and waited for the bride to come down the aisle, he started expressing so much emotion. I was solo shooting this wedding and this moment was difficult because I was secretly bawling behind the camera and had to prioritize this moment over the bride coming down the aisle. Yes, I got both photos, but I knew this moment was THE moment.” ― Paul Woo of Wandering Woo
Best black-and-white shot
“I am so proud I could capture and share this unique, [touching] moment during the father-daughter dance. Her hero will always have a special place in her heart.” ― Bruno Sauma of Beauty and Life: Captured
Best bridal party shot
“I’d scouted out this location in advance and had the idea to put Sydney and Brandon’s extra-large bridal party in front of an impressive mountain backdrop. Instead, we had thick fog and fluffy snow. So, I rolled with it and mirrored the fog using my iPhone screen. If you zoom in close enough, you can see the snow on the black suits!” ― Angela Ruscheinski of Blush Photography
Best couple portrait
“This image embodies so much of what I love about wedding photography. When we walked into the [parking garage], I was immediately drawn to the clean parallel lines and I envisioned the two of them laying in separate stalls, serene and statuesque. I love having the opportunity to get creative with something seemingly so ordinary, like a parking garage. I was lucky that they were trusting enough to lay on the ground in their wedding attire and get creative with me.” ― Jayme Lang
Best dance floor shot
“With friends and family from all over the world, Kate and Sayed decided on the Pemberton Valley in Canada for their wedding. These two were so stoked to get married. They ran, jumped and danced everywhere during the day so I knew their reception entrance would be a good one! I really wanted to capture the setting along with the celebrating, so I backed way up, climbed a fence and set up my frame. One of the biggest perks of shooting together with Shari is it allows one of us to try things a bit differently while the other gets the safe shot. If we only had a single image to describe this day this would be it!” ― Mike Vallely of Shari + Mike
Most epic location shot
“Angela and Dan got married in one of the most beautiful and, on that particular day, windiest places on earth. You simply cannot, however, get married in a place like Waterton Lakes National Park, Canada, and not take advantage of the remarkable scenery. So Angela and Dan headed out like warriors into the buffeting winds for portraits amongst the mountain grandeur!” ― Lanny Mann of Two Mann Studios
Best shot from above
“The couple gave me all the time I wanted to get stunning images of them. The actual shot was taken by me standing in the back of the convertible hanging on for dear life, but [it] was so worth it. The couple has this image hanging up in their beautiful home.” ― Adrian O’Neill of Adrian O’Neill Photography
Best wedding album
“The story of Giulia and Amitai: crossing borders and traditions to create the perfect wedding. She left Italy to find herself, he left Israel to discover the world. They found each other and then themselves ― engaged in Amsterdam, settled in Barcelona and married in Sardinia. With their hearts on their sleeve, their free spirits and the unbelievable deep connection they created, in one day with the photographer, they opened up their most intimate moments before and during their once-in-a-lifetime experience.” ―Francesco Gravina of Fotogravina
Below, we’ve gathered some of our other favorite winning images. To see the rest of the winners, head over to the International Wedding Photographer of the Year website.