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Cliff Mautner Photography

WPPI Grand Award for Photojournalism

In 2009, I was fortunate enough to with the Grand Award for Photojournalism at the Weddings and Portrait Photographer’s International Convention in Las Vegas. That image, a photo of a bride and groom emoting at a gravesite of the groom’s grandparents after a wedding ceremony was incredibly powerful. I had wondered if I’d ever make another image quite that powerful.

The grand award for photojournalism is an incredibly difficult accolade to win. Moments at weddings are fleeting, and the elements of the photograph cannot be staged at all. The moments must not be influenced by the photographer, and the standard of journalistic ethics must be applied. A raw file is provided with the print to prove its authenticity.

This image received a score of 92, a gold distinction, and is from a wedding at the Manor House at Commonwealth in Horsham, PA. Erika, our bride, requested that her father see her for the first time on the wedding day as she descended down her staircase in her home where she grew up.

This is a very traditional request, and I’ve shot it many, many times in my career. I had wondered how I was going to shoot this photo because the distance between the staircase and the door didn’t leave me much room. I decided to shoot it from the living room, thereby using a frame within a frame to compose the image. The rest was up to the family.

All of the elements came together to produce a very powerful and emotional photograph that they will cherish forever. This was the very first time his daughters and granddaughter had seen him cry. The look on their faces was priceless. One frame, one fleeting moment, one decisive press of the button, and the moment was gone.

Thank you, Erika, for handing me this incredible moment. I truly appreciate the gift. This image provided me with a 2nd grand award for photojournalism, and I must admit it’s an embarrassment of riches.

1/100; f/4.0; ISO 2500; 24.0 mm.