“The most outstanding talents & creative minds in the Austrian wedding industry”– Austrian Wedding Awards
Here’s something a little different on the blog; the time when I travelled to Vienna to present the 2020 Austrian Wedding Awards!
It all started having just won the title British Wedding Photographer of the Year 2019. I was receiving a lot of interest in my work (which felt a bit strange), and among the numerous emails that came in, one was from the organisers of the Austrian Wedding Awards. They loved my portfolio and wondered if I would be interested in judging their 2020 national wedding awards. As part of representing the Austrian Wedding Awards and Britain at the highest level of international wedding photography, I would be travelling to Vienna to present several categories!
What an honour! I had no option; opportunities like this don’t come along every day.
Judging the awards took a lot of time, I was methodical and looked very carefully at the vast range of talent. Having entered (and judged) many awards, I know how important it is for a jury to be incredibly diligent in scoring. You can check out all the winners as well as runner ups over on the official site.
▲ The jury members
Once the scoring was in all I needed to do was hire a suit, jump on a plane and set off for my mini two-day adventure. The carrier had cancelled the original flight from Birmingham to Austria a couple of months before I was due to leave, so I ended up getting onto a later departure the same afternoon I was supposed to attend which meant there wasn’t any time for sightseeing. I was cutting it fine! The plane was due to land at 16:35, and I was supposed to appear on stage three and a half hours later. At any rate, I wasn’t going to do the dress rehearsal, and I was worried about my suit creasing up in my hand luggage.
Landing in Austria was an exciting experience, as the plane drifted through the dense clouds, I expected to get a fantastic view of the Vienna, but to my surprise, we touched down in a thick fog. By the time I got through security checks, it was dark already. My driver was 5 minutes away. Once I got in the car and was driven to the incredible 5-star Hotel Melia in the heart of Vienna (about 25 mins from the airport), I still hadn’t seen anything of the city. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to enjoy looking up at the impressive hotel where I was staying. I had read the day before that it’s the tallest building in Vienna! I did get to the top floor (keep reading, more on that later).
▲ The foggy view from my room. I can’t believe I’ve put an iPhone picture up on my blog, but it’s all I had on me at the time 🙂
I was somewhat nervous about the apparent language barrier, but I needn’t have been – most people spoke and understood perfect English, and everybody in Austria was warm and accommodating. Upon arriving at Hotel Melia, I had a quick run-through of the proceedings, and then there was just enough time to get to my room for a shower before getting dressed in my suit (which the staff had steamed).
I decided to wear my Grandad’s watch to the awards; it was given to me by my mum just after he died. My Grandad was a keen photographer, and he would have been incredibly proud of my achievements. I felt a great sense of pride, and I represented my family and country with honour.
The event itself went past quickly. Everything except my announcements was in German, but I was able to follow along. When I took to the stage, I said that if you had told me ten years ago that I would be in Austria presenting photo awards, I wouldn’t have believed you. I truly meant it. It blows my mind to think how far I’ve come in such a short time.
After the awards, the jury went to the top floor (57th-floor rooftop bar) for drinks and conversation. It was still foggy, and I didn’t get my view of the city, but I tried a Whisky Sour for the first time and made some friends – so the night was a success. The next morning I met up with some of the other jury members that had stayed over. We ate a fantastic breakfast and talked for a couple of hours until it was time to leave. And just like that, as soon as it had started, it was already over.
Arriving back into a cold Birmingham later that day, it felt like the entire event had come and gone in the blink of an eye.
I want to thank the organisers of the awards; it was a magical experience and something I will remember for the rest of my life. And a huge congratulations to all the hard-working individuals that won on the night, it was inspiring.