2008 Photographer of the Year

FRANCK BOUTONNET, FRANCE

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. Franck is able to capture the ideal frame even amid extremely fast action situations. As a result, visitors to his site will definitely want to take ample time to enjoy the fine details, finding something new each time they return.

Mr. Boutonnet began working as a professional photojournalist in 2000 while living in California. When it comes to photography, he likes to do his own thing without feeling limited by the confines of formal photography lessons. In 2001, he, along with two other photographers, founded 'item' (collectifitem.com), a collective of photographers. In 2008, Franck was honored with six Wedding Photojournalist Association awards including Photographer of the Year, First Place in Ceremony (Q3) and Reception (Q2). He divides his time among personal and commissioned reportages for clients around the world, his favorite of which being weddings.

When approached to document a wedding, he's typically chosen as a result of his portfolio of past work and is delighted to receive carte blanche. To ensure each assignment represents his signature style, he strives to first please himself and next his client. While aiming to push his limits beyond past accomplishments, he remains fully aware of the important moments he must capture during the day's narrative. With this in mind, he builds a commemorative photo essay – from preparations through the ceremony and reception.

Franck wants each wedding story to portray the personal and unique aspects of the event, fully mindful of his responsibility as the day's memory maker. He doesn't differentiate wedding photography from any other photojournalism assignment and believes a great image will have the same components regardless of its intent or subject matter. These components include a strong composition and universal meaning that transcends time. It's a picture that lives by itself. It means more over time. It's immensely personal.

Typically shooting at close range, Franck likes to use a 35mm lens. "I like to be close, and sometimes really close," he explains. "The photographer has to move around the world and not the opposite." That said, he's also known to step back and switch to a longer lens depending on the situation and locale. While he works, he wants to be as soft as possible, and his clients appreciate this attitude and work style.

Regardless of the location, situation or subject, Franck can find and capture good images at any wedding. He finds this easiest when his subjects trust him completely. Challenged to describe his own style, he always tries to explore the intimacy of the special day with simple yet strong compositions in a documentary approach. "For me, wedding photojournalism is the responsibility to build a family memory in the most personal and powerful way for the generations to come."

Once the day's exuberance fades, his clients thank him for preserving the personal moments that speak both of their important day and the individuals involved.

Lisa Evenson-Ohr / For the Wedding Photojournalist Association