When Renan Radici joined the WPJA a few years ago, his goal was to become the most awarded photographer in the association in a single year. His hard work and dedication paid off sooner than he could have imagined, moving up the ranks from 45th to 3rd within his first two years. To top all of that, he was then awarded the title of WPJA 2020 Photographer of the Year!
Since becoming a member, Radici has received 79 awards for Documentary Photography, 61 Diamond Awards for Engagement Portraits, 54 awards from the Artistic Guild for wedding day portraits and details, and 5 TOP Wedding Photographer Global Titles. All the while, these recognitions and accolades have allowed him to grow his business while simultaneously pursuing his passion for documenting life's most important moments.
“I want to start by saying that I didn't expect (this),” Radici said after learning that he had been named the 2020 Photographer of the Year. “Many thanks to everyone at WPJA for providing me with this experience, and congratulations to all the photographers who are here together and believe in their work.”
Not only was this award and recognition a surprise to Radici, but in a sense, his entire career as a photographer came about unexpectedly. “It all happened by chance because I never imagined or had the dream of being a photographer,” Radici said. “But life brought me photography as a gift.”
Radici discovered his interest in photography while he was enrolled in a business administration program at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in 2011. As part of his degree program, he took a Photoshop course because he had an interest in graphic design. One of his classmates in this course was a photographer, and this newfound friend introduced him to her own passion for photography, sparking Radici's interest in the industry.
At the time, he thought that maybe he could make a career taking advertising and marketing photographs for businesses. He never imagined that he would one day be responsible for capturing the precious moments of a couple's wedding day and preserving those memories for them.
Within a month of enrolling in the Photoshop course, Radici had purchased his first camera and, just a year later, he had booked his first wedding. Through the most unexpected of circumstances, his career in photography began.
As the 2020 Photographer of the Year, it's not surprising that Radici can enter any wedding he photographs with a sense of composure and confidence. However, his first experience photographing a wedding did not begin on the best note. He describes this event as one that fell prey to Murphy’s Law: anything that could go wrong did.
“I hardly knew it would be one of the most dreadful days of my life,” he said. “I always joke that I aged about 5 years only that night!”
It all began when the bride began to walk down the aisle and Radici's camera flash broke. Next, the lens he had chosen stopped working as soon as the bride arrived at the altar. From there, chaos ensued as he tried to get his backup equipment up and running. Fortunately, Radici was able to keep his composure thanks to being prepared for such a situation, immediately realizing just how important it is to always have extra lenses, flashes, and batteries on hand. However, the mishaps and stress of the long evening nearly ruined the experience for him, deciding on his way home that he would never shoot another wedding again.
His attitude quickly changed, though, when he began to edit the images he had taken that night.
“I am thrilled to this day every time I remember the first time I saw, through my work, the joy and energy of the people in the photos I had done and all the turmoil of emotions that surround the wedding day,” Radici said. “But still, there was that internal question: 'Will the bride and groom like the photos?'”
To say that the bride and groom liked the photos of their wedding day would be an understatement, and their reactions marked a huge turning point for Radici.
“They called me in the middle of the night, crying with emotion, telling me that with each photo they saw, they remembered and felt everything that was happening at that moment. (They said) that the way I transmitted each person's energy in each click was incredible!” Radici said. “It was at that moment that I understood that photography would be part of my life!”
While his first experience shooting a wedding could be described as disastrous, to say the least, Radici found redemption in the editing room and in the joy of presenting the stories of their wedding days to the couples. In this transformative moment, he became a wedding photographer who was dedicated to authenticity and artistic portrayal.
Nearly a decade after launching his career, Radici does not feel that he has a defined style. Rather, he gives himself the flexibility to adapt his style and approach based on the couple that he is photographing. He values taking chances in order to constantly learn. Continuously learning and studying is, in fact, key to Radici, whose photography is always evolving.
His goal is to capture images that will tell the authentic story of the day and that will form a connection with the couple's lifestyle. For fun-loving and spontaneous couples, he creates images that are bright, airy, and full of detail. For dramatic and romantic couples, his portraits are carefully curated works of art.
No matter how much time passes for Radici, though, the emotional inspiration and impact that first sparked his passion is the key force that continues to drive his work.
“In all the work I do, what makes me happy are those photos that make us go back in time to that exact moment that is captured, that image that there is a composition to which we managed to fit several people, each of them with their truths and history, with just one click,” Radici said. “This is the photo that wins my heart!
Radici’s style, filling each photo with multiple stories occurring simultaneously, is not a simple one to achieve and requires a dedication to constant creative development. It is a process, Radici says, that requires absolute focus on the wedding day with careful attention to everything occurring around him in order to capture every event and tiny detail unfolding around him.
While Radici is well-accustomed to the hard work that this process demands from beginning to end, that doesn’t make it any less draining. However, it is also a process that Radici views in a positive light and one he does not ever want to stop using.
“Mental and physical exhaustion after an event is, I always joke, like a Formula 1 race,” Radici says. “You have the mental preparation before the day, during the day you accelerate as much as possible and control the car as intensely as possible, and you will only relax after passing the checkered flag!”
Radici points out that, just as in a real race, he doesn’t always have time to pause while constructing his visual stories since he always wants to make sure he doesn’t miss a single moment or beat.
“When I'm in this frantic moment of creating the photo, I end up not seeing the result at the time because everything happens so fast at weddings and, if I haven't captured that exact moment, I won't be able to repeat it,” Radici said. This kind of constant attentiveness required on Radici’s part is crucial to creating the fullness and richness of the scenes he portrays, but in his mind, his efforts do not go without reward.
“At the end of the day I know I have the scene on record, but how it turned out I will only know it when I curate them, so I see if it worked or not. It is at that moment that my mind opens, and I have an incredible feeling of joy and accomplishment.”
All of the energy Radici exerts, putting the pedal to the metal from the moment he begins making preparations and not letting up until he gets into his car to go home at night, shines through in his photography. In the end, after his dedicated surge to the finish line, Radici is rewarded not only with this sense of accomplishment, but with photographs that are equally alive and as full of energy as the work he put into them.
It is this very energy and vivacity, this relentless dedication to portraying authentic and complex moments, that has now further awarded Radici his position as the WPJA 2020 Photographer of the Year.