AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
The AG|WPJA proudly recognizes the Photographer of the Year (POY), that member holding the most contest points at the end of each year.
2019 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Jesse La Plante, Colorado
WPJA’s new Artistic Guild Photographer of the Year honed his skills as a gritty newspaper photojournalist before shifting to wedding photography in 2008. Jesse La Plante’s new career coincided with a move to Colorado, where he started J. La Plante Photo and, in the words of his WPJA bio, “never looked back.”
La Plante, a WPJA member for six years, derives some of his considerable inspiration from the mountains near his Boulder home, where he often can be found skiing when not on a wedding shoot. He likes to joke that his studio has two seasons: wedding season and ski season. “I can’t imagine a more perfect setting for a wedding photographer,” he says of his location.
2018 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Matteo Originale, Italy
Matteo Originale excels at work that is, well, original. In his wedding photography business, he has honed a point of view that combines an artistic flair for post-production manipulation and enhancement.
Matteo Originale is the 2018 Photographer of the Year for the Artistic Guild of the Wedding Photojournalist Association. It is his second time to earn the title, having been named the AG|WPJA POY two years earlier.
2017 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Luca Fabbian, Italy
Two years into medical school, AG Photographer of the Year Luca Fabbian realized that he was not cut out to be a doctor. His creative, instinctual nature was not a good fit for the rational, methodical demands of practicing medicine. The medical profession's loss definitely has been photography's gain.
Embarking on his "Plan B" by enrolling at the Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan, Luca soon became passionate about the photographic arts, which appealed to his aesthetic sense and taste. Practical considerations won out temporarily overly his purely artistic instincts, and he started out in commercial photography with the aim of making a living in advertising. At the time, he could not have imagined becoming a wedding photographer. Still-life photography has its limitations, though, so he eventually yearned to get out of the studio and start shooting real life.
2016 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Matteo Originale, Italy
Matteo Originale’s photography speaks to the importance of the day. Highlighting the wedding couple embracing or rice captured as if frozen above the crowd, Originale’s work reveals textures so rich and details magnified. The results are moments that feel they could never be reproduced. They are of a certain time, a feeling, a story that is unique to each couple.
While he captures those very singular moments in time, the emotions in the 2016 Artistic Guild of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (AG|WPJA) Photographer of the Year's (POY) work come through at full force. Unleashed, shared and celebrated, his subjects—whether in focus or not—convey an emotional response that fills each frame. Trained in his early years in the darkroom, Originale notes that in post production he has always looked for beautiful emotions. He looks for passion and love in each moment he captures. He recalls, “When I saw my first photos in the darkroom, I had a succession of emotions. I still remember the sensations of the smell inside the room and the red light that had a unique atmosphere. These moments are in my heart and they'll be with me forever.”
2015 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Daniele Vertelli, Italy
A sense of imagination unleashed—pure creativity—defines Daniele Vertelli’s work. An internal drive to express himself, no matter the means, drives the man. As he states, the most important thing to him is an ability to be creative. Daniele reflects, “[Whether it be] a pen, a piece of clay, a camera, all are instruments that enable me to express myself.”
His level of self-expression has been present and active since his mother gave him a camera at the age of nine. From that moment forward, his dream was to be a professional photographer. Though he has achieved his dream, Daniele continues to challenge himself, enabling his work to improve and evolve. While he acknowledges that the field of wedding photography has gotten much more competitive, his work demonstrates a passion and perspective that is his alone.
2014 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Emin Kuliyev, New York
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 the) WPJA. 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. Spanning decades and exotic destinations, earning recognition and amassing awards, Vertelli’s career grew out of his boyhood dream to become a professional photographer. Upon receiving a camera from his mother at the age of nine, Vertelli recalls, “I immediately realized that becoming a professional photographer was my dream.”
2013 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Daniele Vertelli, Italy
For some, a dream ends when they wake up. For Daniele Vertelli, the dream is so much more. It does not only entertain one’s sleep or consume daydreams. For Vertelli, it is what a career is built upon.
Spanning decades and exotic destinations, earning recognition and amassing awards, Vertelli’s career grew out of his boyhood dream to become a professional photographer. Upon receiving a camera from his mother at the age of nine, Vertelli recalls, “I immediately realized that becoming a professional photographer was my dream.”
2012 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Andrea Cittadini, Italy
Andrea Cittadini tells the newlywed’s story by capturing the natural emotions and the narrative of the day through his lens, in brilliant detail. In telling their story, he not only captures the present moment but also the moment that speaks to their past and to an auspicious future. In short, his artistic wedding photojournalism tells a narrative that stands outside of time.
To capture clear, emotional photography is Andrea’s aim. He follows emotions as they flow throughout the day. From father to daughter, bride to groom, mother to son, and so on, there’s a wealth of poignant feelings, crystalized through Andrea’s lens. Elated, nervous, wistful, relieved—whatever his subjects express becomes nearly tangible through his photographs.
2011 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Edoardo Agresti, Italy
While Edoardo Agresti’s subject matter spans from weddings to cultures around the globe, the driving force behind it does not vary. It is his love of reporting on what lies between his camera and the world that comes across in every image he captures.
Edoardo views each wedding he photographs as a journey. “The wedding is an event and if you want to tell [its] story, you must shoot in a photojournalistic style,” the lifelong traveler says. He has been traveling since the age of 9. Along with photography, he attributes his love of travel to his father. Travel, he says, “has helped me develop a particular sensitivity, and tune my heart and mind, so that I can capture reality in all its beauty, depth and intimacy.”
2010 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Juliana Mozart, Brazil
Juliana Mozart, AG’s 2010 Photographer of the Year, admits, “I’m a very frustrated ex-bride!” Years ago, the photographer she hired to capture her momentous day forgot to replace the flash’s battery. The videographer did not show up. The day passed without any tangible remembrances of it. She jokes that her therapy for having an empty wedding album is photographing each of her client’s weddings with much love and passion.
Though in truth, Mozart’s passion for her work comes from something that cannot be pinned down. It’s evident in her photography, in which the angles and perspectives from which she captures her subjects are constantly shifting in unexpected ways. When looking at her work, the viewer feels as though she has been transmitted into the artful, beautiful way in which Mozart sees the world. She finds surprising ways of framing a moment, making her work always new and fresh and idiosyncratic.
2009 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Marcin Labedzki, Poland
The WPJA is honoring a member of the Artistic Guild of the Wedding Photojournalist Association (AG|WPJA) with a Photographer of the Year (POY) award. Marcin Labedzki of Gdanzk, Poland, has earned through contest points the title of AG|WPJA POY 2009. In addition to the title, Labedzki will receive a $1,000 cash prize and a trophy with his name engraved on it.
“Winning this award is a very special distinction and I’m happy that my work has been honored like this,” says Labedzki. “I think being a wedding photojournalist is the greatest thing in the world. Not many people have the luxury of turning a passion into a profession. In photography nothing is impossible. The only limit is our imagination.”
2008 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Emin Kuliyev, New York
When shooting weddings, award-winning New York photographer and AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year (POY) 2008, Emin Kuliyev practices rapt attention. For as many as 13 consecutive hours Kuliyev focuses on the day’s event, without eating, sitting or losing concentration. No detail is so small as to slip his notice. No physical twist, bend or turn is too much for him, including multiple hours of standing.
And that kind of focus doesn’t end on the wedding day. Kuliyev spends a month afterward culling through up to 8,000 images he typically shoots over the course of a wedding, from getting ready to reception reverie. He compares a day’s shooting to climbing Mt. Everest while hauling a large, heavy camera bag—but he wouldn’t do anything else in the world.
2007 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Dino Lara, Phillippines
Sometimes photographer and place are a perfect match. The exotic Philippines brings out the best in AG|WPJA photographer Dino Lara, who is a native of the multi-island nation. A lush, romantic and picturesque country, the Philippines inspires Lara and provides a sensuous backdrop for his award-winning wedding photography.
Celebrating his 10th anniversary in 2010 as a wedding photojournalist, Lara was awarded the AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year (POY) title in 2007. He credits hard work for his award-winning style. “I do a lot of preparation before I photograph a wedding so that I’ll be able to react quickly when a rare moment comes,” says Lara. “One way I keep myself ready is by feeding my eyes and mind with visual art. I watch a lot of movies—about four or five a week—read books, go to art galleries, and look at magazines and web sites.”
2006 AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year
Chenin Boutwell, Southern California
About 10 years ago when she was a second-year law student and part-time wedding photographer, Chenin Boutwell of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., was offered a position as a public defender, her dream job. But her heart was in photography. So after finishing law school Boutwell launched her business as a wedding photojournalist, never once regretting it.
Personable and talented, Boutwell keeps a full schedule photographing about 25 weddings a year and teaching workshops to other photographers. Her contemporary style is fun, detailed and emotional, earning her a loyal following, awards and lots of media exposure. Several magazines and two recent wedding books have published her images. In 2006 Boutwell was named AG|WPJA Photographer of the Year and two years later The Knotnamed Boutwell Studio one of the top Southern California wedding studios.