Behind the scenes of judging the Fearless awards round 43

Behind the scenes of judging the Fearless awards round 43



The demand for excellency in wedding photography is growing and the quality of the photographers these days compared to the quality only 5 years ago has risen up exponencially. A challenge for those who want to keep consistently improving their skills and get a chance of winning an award at a photography contest that might change one´s career and one´s life.


real moments wedding Fearless award round 43

Foto by Abhimanyu Sharma


Every wedding photography contest out there has its own rules to follow and ideas of what they’re looking for and I  have spent a lot of time entering my pictures to contests. Having your photographs rejected time after time can knock down your confidence but persistency is the key. Keep trying and stay determined and you may just bag yourself a prestigious award. I never thought it would happen to me until I came in second place for Fearless Awards Photographer of the Year in 2017, just after Isabelle Hattink. I admire her a lot and we became really good friend thanks to this amazing community.


real moments wedding Fearless award round 43

Foto by Filipe Santos


Fearless is more than a photographers directory, it’s a community a family for me.

When I say the Fearless community changed my life, I mean it in so many ways. I’ve been in Fearless for almost 7 years. It has pushed me to be a better photographer, to reinforce my skills and to go further… to be more fearless. And it has also brought more valuable things to my personal life. I met the love of my life Franck Boutonnet in a Fearless Conference. I met most of my best friends through Fearless: Victor Lax, Isabelle Hattink, Joshua D’hondt, Raquel Cavero, Kris Moya, and the list could go on and on.


Foto by Sara Kirkham


So I wanted to give back to the photography community by sharing the behind the scenes of judging the Fearless awards round 43 and what to keep in mind when entering photographs in this contest from a jury member’s perspective.


I judged the ‘Real’ category alongside 2 other amazingly talented photographers:Lauren Brimhall andRichard Howman all with different styles and tastes The first step was to evaluate 3643 pictures. I sorted them into 4 categories:


  • WOW YES! (140)
  • NEARLY THERE (231, something is missing or something doesn’t work)
  • NOT SELECTED (3001)

Foto by Victor Lax


Then I gave a second look to the 271 pictures and upgraded 49 pictures, and finally from the 189 pictures (WOW YES! + Upgraded) I did my final selection of 112 images, which I sent to Huy as requested.


I don´t know what the other judges sent, but we received a second gallery, with a common selection from the 3 judges, and we had to rate each picture: Yes (2), Maybe(1) or Not(0). The ones that obtained 4, 5 or 6 points were instantly awarded. It was torturing me not to see images that I had selected in this gallery. It´s a real shame that these photographs that are prize worthy got lost in the process. So I urge photographers out there not giving up and keep sending your amazing photos, as the judging panel consistently changes every round to keep the contest fresh.

Finally we were asked to vote again for 47 images, as only 66 pictures made it with more than 4 points, so I upgraded 23 pictures, gave a ´maybe´ to 6 pictures and rejected 18.

Finally from 191 awards, around 70 where in real category.



Foto by Wagna Cavalcante



So which qualities am I looking for in the pictures presented to me?


I was a judge for the “real” category which means I was looking for photographs that capture real, genuine moments that are full of real, raw emotion. So for this category especially, it absolutely cannot be a posed photograph. Other important factors to consider when entering this category are:


Foto by Branea Andrei



High quality composition is everything. Mutilating hands, fingers, heads is a big no-no. A clear, clean background with perfect lighting makes all the difference.


Foto by Nitin Dangwal



If you don’t get the postproduction right, it most definitely will cost you the chance of winning an award. Before digital cameras were born, photographers would play around with their photographs in darkrooms and now modern technology allows us to do and create so many things in postproduction. We can guide our viewer through the picture and to the focus points. But sometimes, poor postproduction ruins the picture, either because of the lack of it or because it was too badly done.


Foto by Steven Herschaft



Sometimes, out of bad luck or plain old copying, there are great photographs that are just too similar to other or famous photographs. Copying is great for professional development and improving skills but not for contests! We’ve seen it all before. We’re looking for original ideas and moments. It could be that there are other photographs that are very similar to yours and just a bit better so you didn’t make the cut this time. But if you truly believe in your pictures, send them again! But don´t send similar pictures in your own selection, because you would compete with your own self….


Foto by Yves Schepers


All the pictures I selected and believed in were the ones that I truly connected with, that touched me in some way and made me feel emotional. I was genuinely overwhelmed with the amount of amazing photographs. It made me proud of my profession with a touch of envy. It has driven me to keep improving and to never stop trying harder to get my pictures more clear, stronger, and be the best I can be as a professional wedding photographer.


Foto by Maarten Devoldere



All the pictures shown is this post where awarded images in Fearless ohotographers round 43. To see the whole gallery please go here 😉