There are dozens of items on our to-do list and our inbox is full to overflowing. This meant that entering the AIPP Queensland Professional Photography Awards wasn’t at the top of my priority list.

That didn’t keep Katie from nagging me to enter. Or maybe encouraging is a better word. Katie’s not a nagger but gosh she can be persistent. Two days before entries closed Katie finally talked me into giving it a go. A huge thank-you to RGB Digital and Photomounts and Albums for bailing me out at the last minute.

I had zero expectations for this year’s awards, none at all. I guess we’ve been so busy that I haven’t had the brain space to think about it.

As well as convincing me to enter, Katie also drove from Toowoomba to Brisbane to collect my prints and take them to our friend Alicia’s house. Alicia (who won both Landscape and Illustrative Photographer of the Year – two separate categories – rock on Alicia!) kindly drove my prints to the judging location.

On top of that (yes, there’s more) the awards dinner sold out before we could get tickets. So, until yesterday morning … I didn’t know how my prints had scored (we were in Melbourne while the judging was on), I was bummed that we weren’t going to the awards dinner, and even now I still haven’t even seen the physical prints I entered.

Yesterday morning our friend Melinda called to say that two “spare” tickets had become available for the dinner. Apparently this is a dead give-away that you’re in the running for an award, but I was clueless. I was just so excited that we’d get to attend the awards dinner and catch up with everyone!

Thank you so much Melinda for tricking me! We also cannot thank you enough for your support over the years. You have been so good to us and we are entirely undeserving. The same goes for Jan and the QAIPP team for your support as well, and all the volunteers behind the scenes that make the awards and AIPP events so awesome.

So, all that to say … to be named as AIPP Queensland Travel Photographer of the Year last night came as a huge surprise and an incredible honour! To put it mildly.

Some people have asked why the Travel category? Why not weddings?

Apart from our friends Jonas and Todd owning the wedding category for the last 2 years – (Jonas won Wedding Photographer of the Year, Highest Scoring Print, and the overall AIPP QLD Photographer of the Year – Todd took out Wedding Album of the Year) – here’s the reason:

These images represent our life together and the amazing journey Katie and I have been on since getting married 6 years ago. Travel has become such a part of our lives that I don’t know how we could ever go without it.

We are always on the road, seeing new places, meeting new people and we are constantly blown away by where our photography has taken us. A few of the places we’ve been because of our photography are Thailand, New Zealand, USA, England, Wales, Greece, Italy, Canada, France and Turkey.

Out of the last 12 months we’ve spent over 4 months overseas. Last year we shot 40 weddings and only 5 of them were in our home town of Toowoomba. 2012 is shaping up as another full-on year of travel.

Already in 2012 we’ve spent a month in the US and we have plans to go back again in July/August to do some more teaching. We just returned from Melbourne and the majority of our weddings are again outside Toowoomba. Katie is traveling to Nepal in September and shortly after that we’ll be in Fiji for a wedding.

We have plans for teaching throughout Australia this year and next year as well. Katie and I have decided that we will travel anywhere in the world to teach and take photos. Seriously.

So, if you want us to come to your town, area, state, country or planet to teach or photograph your wedding … please get in touch and we’ll work out how to make it happen.

The second reason I’m so stoked to win for my travel photos is this:

The way I approach travel photography is exactly how I approach wedding photography. My goal is to always be an observer first and a photographer second. To be present and witness the moment, instead of trying to create the moment. To produce honest and truthful wedding photographs without interfering or interrupting the flow of the day.

This style of photography makes my soul sing. Everything I am as a photographer is represented in these images. One of the unspoken reasons why I was so hesitant to enter my travel images into the awards is that they are so personal to me. I couldn’t bear to have them judged and critiqued.

To be acknowledged in this way for photos that come from the core of my very being, that is truly something special.

A final thought or two or three, maybe four …

In the car on the way to the awards dinner Katie said to me, “Now, I don’t want to get your hopes up, but if you win tonight make sure you don’t waffle on like you did in your wedding speech.” Three things about that make me love Katie even more, if that’s even possible.

#1 – Katie always believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. I don’t know how, but she knew with 100% certainty that I would win.

#2 – No matter how many amazing things happen in our lives, Katie always keeps us grounded.

#3 – All the adventures, the amazing places and the wonderful people we meet along the way … that is all meaningless if we didn’t get to travel together. We spend almost every waking moment together and we travel the world together. It blows my mind daily that this is what we get to do with our lives. My sister-in-law Tina commented recently and said, “You guys seem to have a lot of best days ever!” Yep, we sure do!

I truly believe that people don’t say ‘thank you’ enough, so with the risk of sounding like I’ve won an Oscar, I want to thank a few other people.

My 2nd biggest thank you (after Katie) goes to all our couples – past, present and future – you have changed our lives in more ways than you will ever know. Thank you for being part of our story by inviting us to be part of yours. And the final thank you goes to the photographers who trust us to teach them the why and how of our photography and business. Teaching is something we take very seriously and we will never take your trust for granted.

The actual final thought …

So, following Katie’s advice, I kept my thank you “speech” last night short and sweet, and this is what I forgot to say:

I truly believe in the power of photography to change and improve lives. Not just the people we photograph, but our own lives as photographers. 6 years ago my job had become one that I hated. 3 years ago my video production business had become soul destroying. I called Katie at 2am from my office one morning and sobbed over the phone to her. “I can’t do this any more, it’s killing me.”

Even though I’d helped Katie run her portrait photography business, I’d never really taken photos. I went to America for a month as a video guy and came back a photographer.

Everything we have done and everywhere we have traveled in the last 6 years is because of our photography.

The crazy thing is, as passionate as I am about photography. I’m even more passionate about helping other photographers achieve their goals and dreams by teaching them, in very practical ways, how and why we do what we do.

We’re not rockstars. We are Matt and Katie from Toowoomba, Queensland. The photography industry doesn’t need more rockstars. What it needs is teachers.

The world is full of infinite potential and life is too short to not be chasing your dreams. We’d love to play a part in helping you achieve yours.


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  1. [...] I was so proud last year when Matt was named the 2012 AIPP Queensland Travel Photographer of the Year. You can read about that HERE. [...]
  2. congrats my friend!
  3. Congrats Matt, I'm so pleased for you! Well deserved award! :) Looking forward to seeing the results at APPAs!
  4. so cool, so cool... perfect words x
  5. Congratulations, and these photos crack me up!
  6. Y'all deserve every bit of it. :)
  7. Congratulations thats awesome
  8. Anastasia said:
    Congrats guys, have been reading your blog for a long time now, and you are an amazing team and a great inspiration. And you do look like a true rockstar in these pics :)
  9. Victoria said:
    Well done Matt. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
  10. Congrats to you both, I say both because it seems like you are a team. Regardless of who took the photos.
  11. Dianna said:
    Congrats to you and Katie, it takes two to make this work and I so believe in you and what you do. Thanks for being a part of my life by coming to Colorado to teach what you are so passionate about. You deserve the award and I'm sitting here wiping tears away as I try to read the blog. Keep up the good work and I am so excited to hear you are coming back to USA again. We love you guys. Now, go take some well deserved time off.
  12. Beautifully said Matt, your travel photos have such keen observation that it's a no brainer that you'd win! Look forward to seeing your prints at APPAs.
  13. Thanks for the inspiration Matt...and congratulations on a very well deserved award!
  14. I'm so pleased you entered those photos, they took my breath away the minute I saw them on your blog and I knew they would be winners. You deserve good things :)
  15. Ken said:
    My advice to you is what I have learned over 52 years married to a wonderful lady, ALWAYS listen to your wife. YOU do the same & you won't go wrong. Congratulations on a great achievement, we are very proud of you.
  16. Melinda said:
    Aww shucks guys! A well deserved award and some lovely thoughts on the Awards. Glad you could make it to the dinner ;)
  17. Justin said:
    Congrats on your amazing achievement Matt! Your genuine words & humble sentiments are very inspiring and uplifting. Can't wait for Melbourne ;-)
  18. You two are so amazing... the connection you have comes shining through the images you capture and create... Congratulations Matt for being recognised for your awesomeness!
  19. Well done you!! Well deserved.. and an awesome sentiment towards the industry. x
  20. Anja said:
    Congrats Matt! That's huge... :-)
  21. Annie said:
    You are Matt and Katie. You ARE rock stars! ;) Justly deserved on the award :)