Photographer of the Year

2015 Photographer of the Year

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Samo Rovan

It is no coincidence that in the hands of Samo Rovan, the camera reflects passion, sincerity and warmth. It is these same qualities with which he approaches all of his subjects. It is also why people have sought him out time and time again, asking him to photograph them or for them.

Initially, as a student of architecture years ago using a camera for documentation purposes, Samo was immediately smitten with the medium. He reflects on how he “could capture his thoughts and ideas through the camera. I wanted to see the beauty and diversity of life in my own way and document these moments.” Shortly thereafter, the owner of the film studio where he had his film developed asked Samo to take photographs for him. This led to an invitation by a Slovenian photo press agency to work as one of their photojournalists.

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2014 Photographer of the Year

New York, United States

Emin Kuliyev

New York City wedding photographer Emin Kuliyev, the only person to ever simultaneously win Photographer of the Year for both WPJA and AG|WPJA, is clearly a competitive force. However, he says he doesn’t try to win in any competition. “I started my own competition in my head, based on categories at theWPJA. It’s a competition with myself,” he says. As such, he claims he is never nervous about results, and credits the organization as a mentor through the many inspirational images he finds there. Emin’s foundational philosophy about his work is that a photographer’s images are directly tied to their own personal experience. He attributes successful images as “luck, multiplied byyour experience,” and, of course, your camera skills. “It the camerashould be just an extension of your hand or eye.” He believes that pressing a shutter button will not create an exact replication of a moment. Rather, the ability to capture moments is shaped by one’s own individuality, and thus the creative process renders an image as a vicarious expression of self and subject. As he explains, “Merely holding a camera does not mean the gods willgive you the shot. You must have something inside you. If so, it will beimmediately visible within the photo.”

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2013 Photographer of the Year

Lombardy, Italy

Cristiano Ostinelli

Simply put: Passion is the driving force behind Cristiano Ostinelli’s photography. In fact, it has always defined his relationship with the camera. Upon buying an old Canon at a market in Italy twenty years ago, this 2013 WPJA Photographer of the Year was immediately smitten with the instrument. It is no surprise that a man of such passion did not receive formal education in photography. Ostinelli consumed books and taught himself. Now he teaches photography—the techniques and skills. Though as far as he is concerned, “Photography is not a job that can be done without passion.” And passion cannot be taught.

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2012 Photographer of the Year

Illinois, United States

Steve Matteo

All professional photographers know there is no training like on-the-job training. Many receive it from working as an apprentice, learning the tricks of the trade from a seasoned photographer. For WPJA’s Photographer of the Year, Steve Matteo, on-the-job training came from photographing live sporting events for the dailies. At the time, he was carving out a career that he had long dreamed of. He did not know that he was also creating a solid foundation and a bridge to becoming a wedding photojournalist and further exploring and refining his craft.

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2011 Photographer of the Year

New York, United States

Emin Kuliyev

While he speaks in short clipped sentences, Emin Kuliyev produces photographs that evoke a wealth of words and emotions. His work reveals a laser-like focus on the emotion of the moment, capturing the height of his subjects’ reactions. Though he humbly describes, “I can't explain it to myself—everything happens by itself. No control on my level. I just click on the button when I feel that I must do it,” his images speak to more than just excellent timing.

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2010 Photographer of the Year

Northern California, United States

Dave Getzschman

Let’s forget about the “rules” of photography. Lighting, subjects, composition, set all that aside. What we are looking at here is what makes us human—emotion—it is what defines the work of WPJA’s Photographer of the Year, Dave Getzschman. The people in his photographs are not just elements in a dramatic setting, interacting superbly with their counterparts. They are not just subjects printed and framed for nostalgia’s sake. They are human beings full of emotion.

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2009 Photographer of the Year

Siena, Italy

Carlo Carletti

For the second time in three years Carlo Carletti of Italy has been honored with the prestigious WPJA Photographer of the Year (POY). Carletti is the first to win the title twice, having won it previously in 2006. In addition to the honor and a $1,000 grand prize, Carletti’s name, for the second time, will be permanently engraved on a traveling trophy, which he is to keep for one year.

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2008 Photographer of the Year

Lyon, France

Franck Boutonnet

The WPJA is proud to honor Franck Boutonnet of Lyon, France as its 2008 Photographer of the Year. Along with this title, Franck received a $1,000 grand prize. His name will also be permanently engraved on the WPJA Traveling Trophy. The first thing that makes Mr. Boutonnet's work stand-out is his ability to capture light within any environment with striking results either in black and white or vibrant color. Each composition also offers a multitude of layers, from the subject's emotional expression to the candid activity in the back- and foreground. The first thing that makes Mr. Boutonnet's work stand-out is his ability to capture light within any environment with striking results either in black and white or vibrant color. Each composition also offers a multitude of layers, from the subject's emotional expression to the candid activity in the back- and foreground.

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2007 Photographer of the Year

Northern California, United States

Ben Chrisman

The WPJA is pleased to announce Ben Chrisman as it's 2007 Photographer of the Year. In addition to this distinguished title, Ben also received a $1,000 grand prize and his name has been permanently engraved on the WPJA Traveling Trophy. Growing up, Ben was surrounded by creativity, his mother immensely artistic and his aunt a wedding photographer. He knew from an early age that he, too, wanted to pursue a career in the visual arts. So, when the opportunity presented itself to work as high school yearbook photographer, he grabbed it.

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2006 Photographer of the Year

Siena, Italy

Carlo Carletti

The WPJA is proud to honor Carlo Carletti as its 2006 Photographer of the Year. Along with this title, Carlo received a $1,000 grand prize. His name was also permanently engraved on the WPJA Traveling Trophy. Carletti’s photojournalism career started in 1987, when he began freelance magazine and newspaper collaborations in Tuscany, Italy.

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2005 Photographer of the Year

Texas, United States

Huy Nguyen

The WPJA honored Huy Nguyen with its distinguished 2005 Photographer of the Year award. With this recognition, Huy received the $1,000 grand prize and his name was permanently engraved on the WPJA Traveling Trophy.

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2004 Photographer of the Year

North Carolina, United States

Gary Allen

The WPJA proudly honors Gary Allen as 2004 Photographer of the Year. Along with this title, Gary received a $1,000 grand prize and his name is engraved permanently on the WPJA Traveling Trophy. Gary’s principal pride, however, is the recognition this award represents within distinguished WPJA company and the message it sends from a notable panel of photojournalism judges. The award represents excellence within his photojournalism profession. “Winning the award is that much sweeter,” he said.

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2003 Photographer of the Year

Nebraska, United States

Eric Francis

The WPJA is proud to honor Eric Francis as 2003 Photographer of the Year. Along with this title, Eric won the $1,000 grand prize and his name is engraved permanently on the WPJA Traveling Trophy.

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2002 Photographer of the Year

Washington, United States

David Beckstead

David Beckstead earned the Wedding Photojournalist Association's first Photographer of the Year Award in 2002. What makes Beckstead unique are images that reflect an artistry that often requires the artist to test the edges of former photographic 'limits'. But the artistic leading edge of wedding photography is exactly where David Beckstead wants to be.

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