The last time I wrote a yearly review was in 2013 and you can read that here. 2013 was probably the most significant year in my journey as a photographer because that year, God transformed my dreams of becoming a full-time professional wedding photographer into reality. If you read that 2013 review post you’ll see that it was an intensely emotional year for me and probably one of the most trying years of my life.

Last year I didn’t write a review post and there are quite a few reasons for that (mainly related to time constraints) but a significant reason was because I had attended the Fearless Photographer’s conference in Bali in August 2014 as well as a masterclass by Ben & Erin from Chrisman Studios. That was the first time I’d ever attended a major photography conference and it completely changed the way I assessed my own photography. Prior to that, I had no way to determine the strength of my work besides my personal opinion along with feedback from friends and clients (which was usually ego stroking and glowing). In Bali I was asked to provide my favourite images as well as a recent wedding for critique. I offered up my most-liked facebook images and the work I thought would blow away the instructors.

When my work came up in front of the class for critique there was a hush amongst the room and not because they were in awe of my awesomeness. The feedback was raw and harsh… If anything the rest of the attendees were probably wondering how much more of an ego-beating each photographer could take.

A good photographer in a room full of good photographers is just an average photographer.

Ben & Erin explained that the purpose of the critique wasn’t to praise the good in our images but to reveal the flaws… the key things that let down my images and prevented good images from being great. It reminds me of a saying…

“People don’t know what they don’t know… They don’t even know that they don’t know!”

How was I to improve if I didn’t know what to improve? Nobody had ever critiqued my work before so when I came back to Perth I reviewed my work and for the first time, all I could see were flaws and improvements I could have made. When it came time to post a yearly review in 2014, whilst I had PLENTY to be thankful for, I didn’t feel compelled to share my work.

Over the 18 months since the conference I’ve slowly been applying the things I’d learnt… a little at a time. I’ve also had the confidence to ask more of my clients because a lot of my favourite images require a big commitment from them so we can tweak things to get the perfect shot. If you look through my 2013 favourites and 2015 favourites below, there’s now a growing visual complexity and plenty more room for improvement in the future. 2015 felt like I was starting all over again and excited at each opportunity to shoot. A big blessing is that the final 7 photos in the post are awards I’d won in the past few months.

2015 has been a HUGE year. THANK YOU to all of you who welcomed me into your lives and asked me to shoot. At the very beginning I said it was a privilege and it still is… even more so now because each of you played a big part in enabling me to be a photographer for a living. It is a blessing to my family and to clients in the future because shooting for you today means I can create beautiful memories for others in future.

One of the biggest blessings of 2015 was that earlier on in the year we managed to buy and move into a new house. When I attempted to start out as a full-time photographer I never imagined this day would come. When I watch my daughter running up and down the stairs, dancing and jumping around, the sweetest thing of all is that we’ve been able to do it off the back of my camera.

2016 is going to be an even bigger year. We have some grand plans which will mean more risks need to be taken but I guess that’ll be revealed in 2016’s review. I also intend on starting up my series on small businesses again which I put on hold this year because of a change in priorities.

Thank you again and I hope you enjoy the images below. I know that most of you reading this post won’t be photographers so everything about photography critiques and visual complexity I’ve talked about probably isn’t of much interest but recently I was asked to describe my strengths and what makes my work unique…

I’d like to think of myself as a bit of visual magician. Every bride wants to be part of a fairytale and my way of achieving that is by creating breathtaking images where you can feel the romance and yet not quite know where they are. I’m not a destination photographer so I don’t fly to exotic locations to make my images. Every single image below was taken in Perth (or within a few hours drive) and people are always suprised when they find that out so I guess it just means I’m succeeding in creating that illusion.

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