The WPJA awarded my photo from New Zealand 4th place in it’s quarterly awards:
However the judges comments went like this:
But I have to comment on this category in general. There were so many pictures of people walking away from the photographers that it puzzled me. I saw so many pictures with stunning light in other categories that I wondered what the photographers were thinking when they got to this category. All of the moments and good storytelling went away.
Who is this judge that feel’s so strongly that there’s no story from this image that they take the liberty to complain about my photo as exemplary of the category? Boy does that sting. In my experience this goes to strengthen the stereotype that ‘photojournalistic’ images are ‘careless snapshots in black and white’ and doesn’t work toward showing how good photojournalist can transcend the basic elements of what’s happening and make an image with stronger themes. IN contrast I would love to hear Sister Wendy discuss the results.
Realistically, when you’re up there your eyes are glued to the splendor that’s enveloping you! When the couple looks at the camera the image loses it’s compelling fixation on the mountain. When you’re there, just as in the picture, it feels like you can reach out and touch it. In my picture I worked to transcend the basic experience of being dropped off on the side of a mountain by helicopter, and tried to capture gesture and pair forms that form an allegory for the wedding experience. I was looking for body language that helped describe the awe we all felt.
It’s funny how every time I hand out the business card with this image on it, the response is – “did you photoshop the background?” Nope, I was really there – and the story of this image, doesn’t just begin when the shutter clicked. You see, it was my vision to wait until the very last minute to get the sunset on the mountain because I was in complete control of where and when the helicopter landed. In this position to get the perfect light, we’re in danger of being surrounded by clouds moving up the mountain. Here is a picture of Nigel, our pilot on the lookout for clouds coming in.
The only reason we were able to make this picture is because of Nigel’s experience, daring and willingness. He told us that on his warning we would have to be back in the chopper within 1 minute, because if a cloud covers us – we can’t take off – because the pilot flys visually. The helicopter is perched on loose stones, and Nigel got out and propped us up with extra stones before he would let us get out. The helicopter is idling with the blades spinning so we can make a quick takeoff. On the port side of the bird, there’s probably only two meters to the edge of the cliff from the rotor tips. So Nigel has made a pretty difficult landing at my request, so that I can capture this scene.
From this angle, you can see the clouds at our elevation across the valley.
Oh boy wouldn’t I have loved to had the time to get to the Tasman Peak & Ben Ohau Mountain Range side of the valley to land the couple on the west facing ridges – but that will have to wait until next time. From that side I could get more of the turquoise hues of the glacially fed Lake Pukaki also. Just plan your destination wedding at the Luxurious Mt. Cook Hermitage Hotel and I’ll be there to make unforgettable images with you!
So as a bride which would you be satisfied with a few snapshots from the top of the mountain, or would you want something that transcended your experience? something with allegorical intent?