Putting your best work up against the competition. Getting feedback from internationally respected peers, including Pulitzer Prize winners. Gaining recognition among professionals and potential clients. These are just a few of the perks and privileges of competing in the WPJA’s contests.
The WPJA recognizes accomplishments and creative excellence in the wedding photojournalism industry. To that end, the WPJA’s quarterly competitions call for the very best in world-class wedding photojournalism, and then reward talent with unparalleled peer review, trophies, titles and professional recognition.
As the premier professional organization for wedding photojournalists, the WPJA’s mission is to clarify and defend the ideals and faithful practices of the craft—the lifeblood of what makes wedding photojournalism recognizable, respected and increasingly desired throughout the world. In that regard, WPJA contests are an essential vehicle for the ongoing professional review and acknowledgement necessary to continually build and enhance the wedding photojournalism profession.
It is important that the WPJA establishes and upholds stringent integrity standards in all its wedding photography competitions; standards equivalent to those of all professional news photojournalists. It’s only fitting that the reputation and credibility of the WPJA rests in our members' hands, and in those of our internationally acclaimed contest judges.
WPJA contests take place four times each year, with closing dates at the end of each quarter. Entries for any of the contests must be created between January 1 and December 31 of the current year, with the exception of entries for the End-of-Year Contest, which is held late January in order to enable photographers to enter images obtained at New Year's Eve weddings.
Members are allowed 40 total entries over the course of the year, with single images entered in each of the various categories featured in the contests. One may re-enter images already submitted in previous WPJA contests for the year, as long as those images did not place in the top ten in any category.
Images are submitted through WPJA’s contest upload system, which is highly efficient. In fact, it’s so easy it could take less than a minute to log in and upload an image for the very first time.
Each February the WPJA proudly recognizes the Photographer of the Year (POY)—that member who has continually placed among the top ranks in the four annual competitions, earning the most contest points.
The recipient not only wins a $1,000 USD grand prize bonus, but is also honored with a permanent engraving of his or her name on the Traveling Trophy, which perpetually circulates among the awardees. Each December, this trophy is returned to the WPJA and awarded to a new POY the following February.
In addition to the grand prize-winner, the WPJA also recognizes the first runner up for POY with a $500 USD cash bonus, while the second runner-up wins a $250 USD cash award. All bonuses are added to any other winnings accumulated from each category.
Talk about peer review! The WPJA’s contests are supported and strengthened by its superb judges—some of the world’s most accomplished and honored photographers. In addition to having won over 10 individual and team Pulitzer Prizes, the WPJA’s judges boast scores of additional professional awards, including honors and POY awards from the National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA), the Overseas Press Club, the Society of News Design (SND), the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Canada's National Newspaper Awards (NNA), the Online News Association, the Newspaper Association of America (NAA), the Robert F. Kennedy Foundation, Photo District News (PDN), the Scripps Howard Foundation and many other prestigious organizations.
These judges—all at the top of their game—give their opinion of contestants’ work, further boosting their prestige and recognition in the industry.
Of course, the value and skill reflected in any image is subjective to a large extent. However, as with most professional pursuits, one’s work is best judged by the industry’s leading organization and the most highly respected practitioners on the field—those who work on the cutting edge, and who have achieved the highest pinnacles of honor by their peers and commercial success in the marketplace.
WPJA’s superior level of assessment assures that contest-winning images are consistently of high quality and worthy of wedding photojournalism’s top honor, a WPJA award.
Receiving honors from the WPJA and its internationally recognized judges comes with unmatched benefits that can help enhance one’s practice on so many different levels.
From cars to restaurants, books to airlines and professional providers of every stripe, awards are everywhere—marks of excellence that separate superior products and services from the crowd. Accumulate your awards now, and enjoy the perks.
—by Michael Roney for the Wedding Photojournalist Association