A Sense of Place {WPPI and beyond}

This post has been about… 6 months in the making and has to be prefaced with fact that I find it exceptionally difficult to put my feelings into words, and even more so struggle to coherently put those words together, so my profound apologies if this doesn’t make sense.

I went to the US at the end of February for WPPI, which is the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Convention and Competition and I stayed for a couple weeks after it as well to do a road trip around California. Going there I didn’t know what to expect and in many ways I think that was the best way for me to do it. For those of you that don’t know me that well, I am a worrier, if you ask anyone that I know, I can worry with the best of them. I can and do freak out every time I leave the house that I’ve forgotten my keys, which I do indeed do from time to time; I have an irrational fear every time I run down stairs that I’m going to trip and fall and I worry about everyone that I know, especially when I haven’t heard from them in a couple of weeks. If worrying was an Olympic Sport, I’m fairly certain I’d win Gold every single time.

So, planning a trip… to the US… by myself… without really knowing anyone… at an international photography conference… to say my worry hat was on would be an understatement of epic proportions. I’ve never really fit in anywhere and photography has been my security blanket, my calm, my little corner of the world where I fit. Thinking about going somewhere so huge with so many people that feel the same way and not fitting in… well… I didn’t know what I would do.

As it was, I left Australia’s sunny shores with a sense of confusion, worry and fear. Being fairly new to the industry, I honestly wasn’t sure where I stood in the grand scheme of things. None of us wants to be that guy/girl on American Idol who THINKS they can sing and gets torn a new one by the judges, and a fear gripped me that my loving family and friends had been telling me that I was awesome because of their love for me, not because of my work and that I would leave WPPI having been told that I… well… I should probably ask for a refund on my photography equipment and look for a job elsewhere.

This fear manifested itself as an epic case of the hiccups walking through the MGM Grand on that first day, for those of us who who don’t like large groups, Las Vegas is quite the assault on the senses. My hiccups disappeared and worrier status was downgraded to normal upon meeting a group of photographers I’d spoken to online Brittany Staddon (my roomie for WPPI), Luis Godinez, Leo Druker and Matt Shumate (and Dani K Johnson and Chris Lin who couldn’t make it, but who were our late night skype pals). I fit in, and not just fit in, but had found kindred spirits who I really would consider moving to the US or Canada for, just to be closer to their awesomeness.

Having never entered an International Photography Competition and certainly not one against the best photographers in the world, I had hoped to receive just some constructive feedback on my work, and while I did indeed get that, I also left with three awards, an Accolade of Excellence in Wedding Photography, Landscape Photography and for a Wedding Album. Worrier status was downgraded to Happy Dance!

There are things in your life that will impact you so remarkably that you’re almost unrecognizable afterwards, going to the US was one of those for me. My new-found friends and awards in tow, I left WPPI for a trip around California, to visit some places that I’d always wanted to, and some people that I’d missed. What followed is what you’ll see in my USA album and the photos that have shaped the photographer and person I have become over the last 6 months.

Below is a little sample of what my looks like in real life.



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