A couple's encounter with a photo bombing whisky jack bird wins 2023 International Wedding Photographer

7th International Wedding Photographer of the Year
(Image credit: Tara Lilly)

In celebration of love and art, Canadian Tara Lilly has emerged victorious as the 2023 International Wedding Photographer of the Year. Outranking over 1,700 submissions across 11 categories from more than 300 wedding photographers worldwide, Tara's enchanting photograph captured the hearts of both judges and viewers.

The winning photograph, entered into the Single Capture category, encapsulated a joy-filled lucky encounter with a whisky jack (aka the grey jay, Canada's national bird) who chose to use the bride's head as a temporary perch. 

As a rule, the International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards prohibits extensive manipulation using Photoshop (or other photo editing software) beyond standard color and exposure adjustments so that judges can be sure moments like this are genuine. Tara's image perfectly embodies the essence of unfiltered emotion, surprise, and the unexpected, offering a snapshot of the narrative that unfolds throughout an entire wedding day.

Winner of the Dance Floor Party Time category (Image credit: Carmelo Ucchino)

Italian wedding photographer Carmelo Ucchino was named the runner-up with a striking composition in the Dance Floor category, depicting a newlywed couple embracing during their first dance as water cascades around them. Other notable mentions include Amy Schaefer's Epic Location winner, showing two daredevil climbers kissing on a rockface, and Fabio Mirulla's Pink Floyd-inspired capture. 

Dee Kampe, last year's Grand Winner and one of the six judges for the 2023 Awards, expressed her delight in judging a diverse range of entries. She praised Tara's winning entry, stating, "It's joyous, uplifting, and makes me grin from ear to ear just looking at it."

Winner of the Epic Location category (Image credit: Aimee Schaefer)

As the 2023 International Wedding Photographer of the Year, Tara Lilly will receive a prize pool that includes a share in over $3,000 (approximately £2,370 / AU$4,510) and products from esteemed award sponsors such as Prograde Digital, Holdfast Gear, Pic-Time, Narrative Select, Godox, Koi Knives, and ImagenAi.

The 2023 awards, curated by Luke Simon, experienced a significant increase of 200 entries compared to the previous year, reflecting a rebound in the wedding photography industry as it returns to a semblance of pre-COVID "business as usual" bookings. Luke expressed excitement about the industry's resurgence and emphasized the Awards' role in providing exposure and recognition to photographers. 

In addition to the Awards program, a new wedding photographer search directory has been introduced to help couples find their ideal professional to capture their special day.

Winner of the Black & White category (Image credit: Fabio Mirulla)

As the International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards continues to provide a platform for both seasoned and emerging photographers to showcase their work, it simultaneously creates a community that appreciates the artistry, passion and love behind every moment captured. 

Wedding photography is one of the most high-pressure genres to work in, but this stunning set of captures shows what can be achieved with a lot of thought and a bit of luck. To view the 2023 winners gallery, head to the official website.

Winner of the Solo Portrait Category (Image credit: Shankhesh Jariwala)

You'll want to invest in the best cameras for wedding photography and the best lenses for wedding photography – along with one of the best flashguns if you're getting into wedding photography so you can capture even the poorly lit moments!

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.