Past Judges

Cheryl Jacobs Nicolai

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Known for her soulful and emotive portraiture, CJ Nicolai is a dedicated film shooter and proponent of photography as an art form. Her work and workshops have been featured by the Analog Photography User Group (apug.org), Kodak’s ProPass Magazine, Black and White Photography Magazine (London) and Adore Noir Magazine. Her writings on photography and art have been featured on innumerable blogs and sites, including www.aphotoeditor.com and www.theonlinephotographer.com. Her essay What Every Aspiring Photographer Should Know has been translated into ten languages. Her photographs have been displayed and sold in numerous solo and group shows worldwide.

CJ’s workshops have been widely praised since her first one, which took place near London, UK in 2005. Since then she has taught hundreds of photographers of all levels across the US, Canada, and the UK. She has critiqued artists worldwide through the magic of the Internet. Her students and alumni include many of the top portrait photographers working today.

Luke Edmonson

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The Edmonson’s have been called a “Master Photographer to Master Photographers” and with good reason.

With a lifetime spent growing up within the industry, the indelible impact Luke Edmonson leaves with clients, students and peers around the world is remarkable. No doubt, his signature style is unmistakable. But it’s his “Iron-Sharpens-Iron” philosophy that has fueled his art and professional success.

A relentless pursuit of excellence through competition. Selfless mentorship. A hands-on benevolence with his passionate charities.

Simply put, the “Edmonson Way” means that giving is a both a privilege and a path to self-improvement; for himself and those he encounters.

In 2015, Luke, a Double Master of WPPI, presented his father David with WPPI’s Lifetime Achievement the organizations highest honor. Luke is also one of the three founders and and a graduate of WPPI’s Certification Program for Wedding & Portrait Photographers, the first ever of its kind.

Professional Photographers of America recognizes Luke as Master of Pho-tography (M. PHOTOG), Photographic Craftsman (CR. PHOTOG) and Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) among other honored designa-tions. He is also a PPA Diamond Photographer of the Year, three-time winner of both the Kodak Gallery Awards and Fuji Masterpiece Awards.

As a member of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography, in 2014, he won the International Photographer of the Year in the AIPP APPA competition. This singular award is presented to the overseas competitor with the highest scoring collection of prints.

Luke is an invited member of the Camera Craftsman of America, one of the oldest, most prestigious groups in the world dedicated to advancing the profession of photography as an art form.

Luke Edmonson is a sought-after speaker and educator locally, nationally and abroad, teaching workshops to the up and coming aspiring photographer, to share his talent and know-how to help others hone their craft. He also serves as a print judge at various international print competitions and served two terms as President of the Dallas Professional Photographers Association.

It’s often said that Art Imitates Life. If you’ve ever seen the work of Luke & David Edmonson, this is clearly true:

“Profound with dimensionality, ingrained with emotion and compelling in their beauty."

…This is the Edmonson Way.

Jennifer Kapala

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Based in Calgary, Jennifer is an award winning child and family photographer. Most recently, she was awarded the Prestigious Photographer of the Year Award for 2014 from NAPCP. Always seeking to improve her craft, she maintain an active membership in the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP), is an accredited member of the Professional Photographer of Canada (PPOC) and a Craftsman Member of the Masters Photographers International. When not pursuing photography, Jennifer can be found either mountainside or lakeside living life with her three boys, husband and wayward pug Charlotte, who is the true queen of the household.

Dan Brouillette

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Dan Brouillette is a commercial, editorial and senior photographer based out of Omaha, Nebraska. Dan uses specialized lighting and posing techniques to create cinematic images for his senior clients that are unlike anything in the industry. After working as a lighting tech in New York City spending his time lighting sets for celebrity and editorial shoots (which he still does today), he moved to Omaha to start his own studio and bring some of that New York flare to his local clients. By implementing different lighting techniques and modifiers typically reserved for commercial photography, Dan is able to stand out and give his clients unique images that look and feel like they were taken from the pages of a magazine. His editorial clients include ESPN Magazine, Women's Health, TIME Magazine and many more and he has been hired to construct lighting setups for celebrities such as Anna Kendrick, Anne Hathaway, Kristen Stewart, Scarlett Johansson, and dozens of others! Dan has been a featured speaker at many PPA events as well as multiple senior photo conventions and has judged numerous image competitions around the country. You can view his commercial work at www.danbrouillette.com and his senior site is www.lookportrait.com

Michael Howard

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Michael has been photographing since 1998. In 2002, he received his BFA in Photography from Missouri State University and in early 2004 he moved to Nashville, TN. He has been photographing weddings and fashion oriented personal work since 2002 and has seen his images published in US Weekly, People.com, E! Online, FLAUNT Magazine, Southern Living Weddings Magazine, Southern Weddings Magazine and many others. In 2012, he branched out in to the software industry and became the founder of MUSEA, which offers online proofing and fine art printing for professional photographers.”

Andrew Niesen

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Andrew developed a passion for photography as a curious - sometimes mischievous - kid in St. Louis. Shooting for local newspapers led him to pursue photojournalism. At the Missouri School of Journalism, he focused on photography and interned at five newspapers. Since spot news wasn’t entertaining enough, he spent a season coordinating photography coverage of the University of Missouri Tigers, the NCAA football team. He was also an active member and president of Kappa Alpha Mu, the photojournalism society.

Combining his love of visual communication with his innate curiosity about human relationships, Andrew rounded out his college experience with a second major — anthropology — studying cultural variations of different groups of people. These skills come into play as a photographer who focuses on storytelling and cultural values.

When he’s not dreaming up the next photo shoot concept, Andrew deals in real estate, dabbles in software design and saves up for far-flung trips to places like Morocco, India and the Ozarks. Since he wasn’t quite busy enough, he decided to pursue an MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. His area of emphasis is product management.

Lori Nordstrom

Lori Nordstrom
Lori Nordstrom {M.Photog.Cr., CPP, ABI} owns a boutique studio specializing in children and family portraits located in the picturesque town of Winterset, Iowa . Lori began her career photographing her own kids in her backyard over 15 years ago, and is now known not only for her simple and sweet portraits of children, but as a leader in the photography industry in the areas of business, marketing and sales. Lori’s love for children extends into her non-profit organization, Dando Amor (Giving Love) Find out more at here! See more of Lori’s work on her website and check out her educational site for photographers here.

Tim Walden

Tim Walden
Tim and Beverly took over Walden’s Photography from Tim’s father in 1980, taking the studio in an entirely different direction when they developed their trademark “Relationship” Black and White Fine Art portraiture. Today, they run a high-end studio, providing beautifully crafted portraits in an elegant studio with impeccable customer service. The Walden’s clientele know when they come to Walden’s Photography, they will leave with a masterpiece that celebrates their loved ones in the most beautiful way possible. To learn more, visit Tim's website here. (Tim Walden, M.Photog.Hon, M.Photog.Cr.,CPP, F-ASP | PPA-Photographic Master and Craftsman Degrees | ASP-Photographic Fellowship Degree | PPA President (2012-2013)

 

Sandy Summers Russell

Sandy Summers Russell
Sandy Summers Russell is a metro newspaper photojournalist who married a small-town farmer. She moved to the middle of nowhere, became a mom, and started Summerland Photography. Now, instead of shooting breaking news, professional sporting events, and heartrending human interest features, she photographs brand new babies, fleet-footed toddlers, and jubilant weddings. Summers Russell has earned numerous recognitions, including four consecutive first-place awards in portraiture from the Society of Professional Journalists, first place for a photography page from the Associated Press, and a first place national award for breaking news from the National Press Photographer's Association. The National Association of Professional Child Photographers named her their 2012 Photographer of the Year.  

Kate T. Parker


Kate T. Parker is photographer, mother and athlete who calls Atlanta home. From fine art to commercial, to weddings she shoots it all. In between coaching her young daughter's soccer teams, doing crossfit, and finding excuses to not cook dinner she runs her photography business, Kate T. Parker Photography. Kate's favorite thing to shoot is her two girls, aged 6 and 9, who inspire her daily. Her work has been featured in galleries in New York, Boston, and Los Angeles among others. Kate's recent project "Strong is the New Pretty" has been highlighted in the Huffington Post, the Daily Mail UK, NPR, the Washington Post, Lean In, Amy Poehler's Smart Girls at the Party, and Athleta. "Strong is the New Pretty" features images of her girls celebrating them as the strong, confident, athletic females they are. Kate was inspired by her own athletic career, playing collegiate soccer at Wake Forest, she was surrounded by amazing women who's value was not determined by how they looked, rather what they did. She wanted to inspire this same feeling in her own girls and others with her project.

Anne Almasy

Anne Almasy
www.annealmasy.com Anne Almasy is a wedding and lifestyle photographer from Atlanta, GA, whose natural, intimate images emphasize the connectedness of family, the joy of community, and the necessity of love. Her photographs have been published worldwide and awarded by the Wedding Photojournalist Association and the Artistic Guild of the Wedding Photojournalist Association. Anne was a Top Ten graduate of Hallmark Institute of Photography, and is a contributing blogger for Huffington Post.

Garrett Nudd

Garrett Nudd
Garrett Nudd is a citizen of the world. After starting his photography business in Orlando, Florida, Garrett and his family returned home to Chattanooga seven years ago, where they opened a chic storefront studio in the historic Southside arts community. Since then their portrait and wedding photography business has grown tremendously. Highly sought after for his wedding work, Garrett and his wife Joy have photographed weddings in Italy, France, Scotland, Norway, Switzerland, Spain, Anguilla, Jamaica, Cayman and coast to coast from New York to San Diego. Their work has been published in more than 50 wedding and industry publications. As a photographer first and a business person second, Garrett feels strongly that print competition is hands down one of the best ways to grow and improve as a photographer and artist. In recent years several of Garrett's images have received recognition at the annual WPPI 16x20 Awards of Excellence Print Competition. In 2010 he was awarded first place in the Portrait Individual category and again in 2012 he was awarded first place in the Portrait Seniors category. Garrett is a frequent instructor at WPPI, Imaging USA and other regional, state and local PPA events around the country. Last year Garrett was an instructor at the NAPCP retreat in Charleston, SC. In April Garrett will be leading a week-long instructional class at the popular at the Texas School of Professional Photography.

Beverly Walden

Beverly Walden
www.waldensphotography.com/ Beverly, along with her husband, Tim, took over Walden’s Photography from Tim’s father in 1980, taking the studio in an entirely different direction when they developed their trademark “Relationship” Black and White Fine Art portraiture. Today, they run a high-end studio, providing beautifully crafted portraits in an elegant studio with impeccable customer service. Beverly is primarily responsible for all of the sales, graphic design and she is also the creator of Beau Visage, the division of Walden’s that offers hand paintings. As an accomplished photographer and entrepreneur, she is also an accomplished judge at many print competitions, bringing her unique experiences to the table.

Mandy Johnson

Mandy Johnson
www.mandyjohnsonphotography.com Mandy Johnson is an international award-winning, Nashville-based professional photographer who can often be found working magic in her studio in historic Franklin, TN. An old soul inspired by all things vintage and a dreamer of a simpler life, her clients include celebrities, musicians, pro athletes, and adorable families that trust her with their stories. Mandy's work has been featured in many media outlets including Southern Living magazine, TODAY, The Rachel Ray Show, The View, PEOPLE magazine, Ellen and numerous local publications. She is a proud member of the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP), strives to be the best that God has made her to be, and is always looking for more kindness in the world!

Sara Brennan-Harrell

Sara-Brennan-Harrell
Sara Brennan-Harrell is the owner + photographer of Whitebox Photo. She specializes in lifestyle photography of families, kids and grads. Sara feels lucky to do what she loves everyday….photographing happy people in fun locations around the world. in between editing and shooting she can be found on her farm in North Carolina working in the garden or feeding her flock of chickens. When not on the farm, she and her family are working their way through the states in their winnebago, Bessie.

Stephanie Buckman

Stephanie-Robin
Stephanie Buckman is the owner of the successful boutique studio Stephanie Robin Photography located in Burlington ON. She is noted for creating emotive imagery of new and burgeoning families and works primarily out of her commercial studio space in Burlington's South end. Stephanie was awarded Photographer of the Year by the National Association of Professional Child Photographers for the year 2011, holds several placings in the International Image Competitions spanning from the second half of 2010 onwards and has attained accreditations in Child and Infant Portraits and Maternity Portraits through the Professional Photographers of Canada. Stephanie is a leading speaker and teacher of the art of safe newborn posing and has held several speaking engagements nationally and internationally at professional photography conferences worldwide. Since 2009, she has also shared her creative approach to newborn posing through workshops and private mentoring both in her studio and throughout Canada. Stephanie's work has been published in various magazines and newspapers and featured commercially by JardHus in Norway. Learn more about Stephanie and view her online portfolio at www.stephanierobin.ca. Professional photographers can learn more by contacting Stephanie at info@stephanierobin.ca.

Christine Pobke

Christine Pobke
Christine Pobke has been photographing children + families since 2009. She has grown her business to include mentoring, a photography retreat, business workshop tours across Australia, several international travel assignments, and national speaking invitations. She has won numerous industry awards both nationally and internationally (most notably from the Canon AIPP Print Awards, the WPPI Awards of Excellence, the Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize, and the Canon Creative Asia Awards). She lives in Canberra, Australia with her brilliant Aussie husband and their fantastically entertaining little girls, Pippa and Elsie.

Sarah Lane


Sarah Lane the artist behind Studio Twelve and Sarah Lane Studios, located in gorgeous Napa Valley. Sarah’s high school senior business, Studio Twelve is making waves and catching everyone’s attention. Her signature style, which shows off her amazing fashion sense and her ability to showcase the unique personality of each senior, has made her one of the most influential and sought after senior portrait artists on the west coast. She has been thrilled and honored to have her images featured on TinyPrints, The Creative Mama, Millers Labs, National Association of Professional Child Photographers NAPCP, Design Aglow, ECouture, LCH Designs & Inspire Me Baby this year!

Laura Novak Meyers

Laura Novak Meyers
littlenestphoto.com Laura Novak is founder and owner of Little Nest Portraits, a fast-growing children's portrait photography company. With multiple locations situated in the Philadelphia metro area and fifteen employees, Little Nest Portraits services over 1,000 families each year. Through her creative leadership, the company was recently recognized by as "Best Children's Portrait Studio" by Main Line Today Magazine. Little Nest Portraits has also been featured in Philadelphia Magazine, CBS Talk Philly, and Good Day Philly on FOX. Prior to starting Little Nest Portraits, Laura owned and operated a boutique wedding photography business in Wilmington, Delaware. The company's wedding photography was featured in the People, The Knot, Modern Bride, Martha Stewart's Weddings and countless other media outlets. In 2007, Kodak named Laura as one of their two "Photographers to Watch". Over the years Laura and her team of working moms have made over 300 charity donations, highlighting her desire to give back while empowering women to live their dreams.

Justine Ungaro

Justine Ungaro
justineungaro.com A 2nd generation photographer, Justine Ungaro has been photographing weddings and portraits for over a decade. Having cut her creative teeth in the Washington DC wedding business, in 2006 she moved to Los Angeles and in 2012 opened her current storefront studio location. Justine's images have garnered top awards from WPPI, PDN Top Knots, The Fearless Awards, WPJA and ISES and have been featured in People Magazine, In Touch Weekly, Martha Stewart Weddings, Inside Weddings, Grace Ormonde, Bride's, The Knot, Washingtonian Magazine, The LA Times, The Washington Post and other printed and online publications. In 2011 Justine appeared as a judge in the online photography reality show Shutter Wars.

MaryAnn Talamo, M.Photog. CPP

MaryAnn Talamo
MaryAnn is the owner of her own successful boutique studio, Custom Digital Images, in Staten Island, NY. She has been continuously studying the fine arts for over 30 years, beginning her formal art education at Mark Twain JHS for the Gifted and Talented in Brooklyn, NY, and culminating with BA degree in Studio Art from Brooklyn College. She frequently uses her extensive education in art history as a reference in her work, which has helped her cultivate a classical style. She has been awarded a PPA Master of Photography degree, and has been a Certified Professional Photographer since 2007. Among her numerous print merits, she recently won the prestigious Silver Photographer of the Year award from the PPA, as well as a Canon Par Excellence Award in 2009. Her artwork has been featured in both the PPA Loan Collections and the PPA Showcase Books throughout the years.

Joy Vertz

Joy Vertz
http://www.stmphoto.com/ Joy Vertz, has grown in 6 short years from a one-woman show in her basement to now running 2, thriving high end, boutique style studios with a team of 7 employees. She is a self-proclaimed numbers girl with a firm grasp on the business aspect of running a photography studio at all levels. Joy's studio, Shoot the Moon Photography has maintained a steady profitability despite the decline in the economy and continues to flourish. It is incredible to hear the organization system that Joy has implemented to ensure that thousands of clients think they are her one and only! Joy has a degree in Studio Art from Lawrence University. Under Joy's artistic vision and entrepreneurial leadership, Shoot the Moon Photography has been selected as the Milwaukee area's top-rate portraiture studio. Her studio, based in Milwaukee Wisconsin has attracted clients all throughout the Southeast Wisconsin area as well as individuals throughout Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Florida, California, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Iowa, North Carolina, Alabama, Utah and from even as far as The Netherlands.

Tina Wilson

Tina Wilson
http://www.tinawilson.com/ Since 2003, Tina Wilson has been photographing kids and their families in East Tennessee. Her filter from which all things flow is simply :: fleeting moments in life and relationships are worth remembering. Her business has catapulted from a small spare room in her home to a thriving commercial space with a team full of high-experience makers. Tina has been both a professional photography business and visual arts educational speaker in Las Vegas, San Francisco, Chicago, San Jose and Atlantic City for Professional Photographers of America, Digital Wedding Forum and California Photographic Workshops. Her work has been featured in Shutterbug magazine, numerous local publications, billboards, as well as ABC's Extreme Home Makeover. She considers her greatest accolade to be building a successful business while purposefully being active as a wife to her husband of 11 years and a mom to her 9 year old twins.

Deb Schwedhelm

Deb Schwedhelm
Born in Detroit, Michigan, Deb Schwedhelm was originally trained as Registered Nurse and subsequently spent 10 years employed as an Air Force Nurse. Although she has been passionate about photography since her early 20s, it wasn't until Deb left the military that she was finally able to pursue the medium as a full time career.

Deb's photographs have been exhibited widely and featured in numerous publications throughout the world. She has received awards from PhotoNOLA, New Orleans, LA; MPLS Photo Center, Minneapolis, MN; The Perfect Exposures Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; A. Smith Gallery, Johnson City, TX; Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, Santa Fe, NM; and The Art of Photography Show, San Diego, CA. Her photographs have also been selected for the permanent collection of The Center for Fine Art Photography, Fort Collins, CO.

Deb is married to a Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer based in Zushi, Japan. She is the mother to three children, who are often the subjects of her photographs.

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Karen Carey


Karen Carey began her career over 15 years ago and has developed a distinctive style that honors her passion for artistry and excellence in her work. She is nationally noted for creating exceptionally moving images that celebrate childhood in a way that is pure and authentic. Combining an eye for strong, yet simple composition with exquisite mastery of light, Karen creates fine art portraits of children that are intimate and honest, bearing witness to the same passion, humor and sensitivity that she exudes in her own spirited personality. Her award winning artwork is hanging in fine homes and in fine galleries across the country, and can be seen on countless magazine covers and national advertising campaigns. In 2007, Karen began sharing her wisdom and creative approach with photographers at all stages of their careers through workshops, lectures and private mentoring. Learn more about Karen and view her online portfolio at here. Professional photographers can find out more about upcoming workshops and engagements at www.KarenCareyPhoto.com.

Jennifer Hudson


Jennifer is one of the modern generation’s visualists creating beguiling images that are both artistically stylized and meticulously crafted. She has an uncanny eye for high fashion, finding beauty, understanding the physique and the intricacies of the human body, the manner in which light will play in a scene and upon a subject, the delicate balance and rhythm of composition, and most importantly, how to powerfully portray human emotion. Founder of one of Fort Worth, Texas’ premier wedding studios and Olive Avonlea Couture Photography, located in Boston, MA, Jennifer is a savvy and energetic image-maker and entrepreneur. Achieving sufficient merits with her PPA Masters and Craftsman degrees in just three years, along with a host of trophies and awards in every category including ten Kodak Gallery Awards, ten Fuji Masterpiece Awards, and five WPPI grand awards, she is a celebrated talent in the PPA and WPPI ranks, and has exhibited work in fine art galleries throughout the country. Jennifer's work has been published in many esteemed print and online as well as a host of regional professional photography publications. Jennifer is a dynamic and emotional illustrator of the human heart. With an innate ability to plumb the antique, the work is soulful; seeking the use of the forgotten or discarded, mechanical in nature, eerie and quiet. With a classical music and orchestral background, she breathes life into her inventions with an air of subtly that only inspired thought and a delicate, intent hand can achieve. Jennifer is currently working in Boston, Massachusetts. She is an international speaker and lecturer whose programs are sought after year after year by many professional public and private photographic organizations. She has just completed her latest major body of work entitled ?Baptism', a narrative series exploring a young woman's spiritual re-incarnation, and is currently working on her series entitled ‘Medic’ which explores the breadth of human relationships during illness and recovery. Jennifer’s work is currently exhibited and collected in many outstanding photography galleries and private collections throughout the country.

Dana Pugh


Dana Pugh has been documenting families since 2007 through her company Short and Sweet Photography. Her work has been featured in many publications and blogs, as well as on local television. She is a multi-award wining, charter member of the NAPCP. Last year, she was named their Child Photographer of the Year. Her award winning image was displayed in Time's Square in New York City. Included amongst her clients are professional athletes, local celebrities and other photographers. Dana has had the opportunity to mentor other photographers from across North America and, this year, is offering workshops across Canada. Dana lives in Okotoks, AB with her unbelievably supportive husband and two beautiful children. The work that most makes her heart sing is her work documenting their life together.

Brandy Anderson


Brandy Anderson has been photographing maternity, babies, kids and families for 7 years under Fresh Sugar Photography. She has won numerous awards including WPPI's Fresh Face in 2010 as well as taking first place in the children's category in the 8x10 competition. She's been featured in Rangefinder and Professional Photographer magazine and recently achieved her CPP - Certified Professional Photographer. She lives in Calgary, AB, Canada with her husband and two daughters.

Tamara Lackey


Tamara Lackey is a photographer, author, teacher, and speaker with a passion for the world of creative arts – and artful living. In addition to photographing portraits, editorial and commercial work, Tamara teaches every day photo takers how to better document life with her new consumer ‘edutainment’ series, Tamara Lackey’s Capturing Life through (Better) Photography - a DVD, Book, and Gift Box combination. Tamara’s work has been described as “expressive, soulful, often funny … beautiful”. Appearing in a multitude of publications, including O – The Oprah Magazine, Vogue, Food & Wine, and Parenting Magazine, Tamara has been profiled in Rangefinder, Professional Imagemaker, and Professional Photographer Magazines. Her imagery has been showcased on NBC’s The Martha Stewart Show, ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, and PBS’ Need To Know. A dynamic and sought-after speaker, Tamara presents on the art of documenting life, small business strategy, and work/life balance at conventions and seminars around the world. She also regularly guests hosts on a variety of shows, podcasts and blogs. She is the author of The Art of Children’s Portrait Photography, reprinted in seven languages and referenced as “some of the best kid portraits I’ve ever seen” by Shutterbug Magazine. Tamara is also the host of the highly-praised Inside Contemporary Children’s Photography DVD, and the co-creator of the Tamara Lackey Style Book, developed in partnership with Kubota Image Tools. Tamara is currently writing her third book on re-envisioning the experience of family (New Riders Press: Voices That Matter, November, 2011). Tamara served on the judging panel a couple years in a row at the main WPPI 16x20 competition in Vegas - for portrait, photojournalism and commercial categories. She also judged the wedding category at SWPP's major convention in London.

Jesh De Rox


Jesh De Rox is fascinated with life and spends his time exploring the way people perceive and connect with each other and the world around them. the founder of the Beloved movement, his experiential photography and life {as an artform} workshop are acclaimed around the world, having garnered over 100 awards internationally. he has been a judge at the WPPI awards of excellence competition since 2007. for more information, please visit JeshdeRox.com.

Susan Stripling


Susan Stripling never knew that she'd end up a wedding photographer. Though she purchased her first camera in high school she went to college to study theatre and dance, obtaining a BFA in 2001. Shortly upon her move to New York City after college graduation Susan realized that the life of a starving actor was not for her and went on to consider several career paths. She waited tables, was a receptionist at a failing dotcom, worked in a Broadway theatre casting office, and finally found her love for Photoshop when she began studying digital and graphic design. Upon her move to Florida in 2001 Susan picked up her camera and looked at it seriously for the first time. She photographed her first wedding that fall and was in love. The fantastic theatre and emotion of weddings moved her in a way nothing had before and her business was born that year. Susan has photographed weddings all throughout the us, the Caribbean, South America, Finland, France, and the Bahamas. She's been published in Inside Weddings, Martha Stewart Weddings, Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, Bride and Bloom, Modern Bride, the Knot, Professional Photographer magazine, The New York Times, Rangerfinder magazine, Capture magazine, Elegant Bride, in trade publications for Nikon USA, and Town and Country Weddings. Susan's teaching career has developed as well; she has been seen at past Digital Wedding Forum conventions, gives private and group workshops throughout the USA, and will be giving a platform presentation at WPPI 2011. In 2009 Susan won third place in the Bride and Groom Together category of WPPI's international yearly 16x20 competition. In 2010 she won first place in the Wedding Photojournalism category and the Grand Award in the Photojournalism division. Susan lives in Brooklyn, New York with her two wonderful daughters.

Melanie McLellan


Melanie McLellan is one half of the internationally acclaimed husband and wife photography team behind McLellan Style. As artists, they are highly sought after throughout the world for their vivid, dramatic, and emotionally impactful imagery. They pride themselves on their ability to capture the beauty of a person’s essence and the Style within. With multiple accolades to her credit, including the 2008 DWF/Finao Photographer of the Year, and multiple first place print awards from Wedding and Portrait Photographers International, she continues every day to strive toward greater heights.

Rachel LaCour Niesen


Rachel LaCour Niesen is a Yankee by birth but a Southern storyteller at heart. As a photojournalist, Rachel pursued projects focusing on rural communities in Latin America and the Southeastern United States. Her work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times Magazine and the San Francisco Chronicle. Her photographs of migrant farmworkers were chosen for a book entitled The Human Cost of Food: Farmworker's Lives, Labor and Advocacy, published by the University of Texas Press. She earned a degree in photojournalism from the University of Missouri, where she was named one of the Scripps-Howard Foundation's Top Ten Young Journalists. When Rachel stumbled upon wedding photography, she quickly traded her front row seat to world history for a front row seat to family history. Along with Andrew Niesen and Mark Adams, Rachel started a wedding photography company, LaCour. In a few short years, LaCour became one of the premiere wedding photography studios in the US and was named among the "Top Ten Wedding Photographers in the World" by American Photo magazine. She's also a co-founder of ShootQ, innovative web-based studio management software designed to free photographers from the tedious tasks of managing their business. Besides spending time with Andrew, Rachel can usually be found traveling, reading books about art or entrepreneurship or sampling her favorite red wines – Barolo and Barbaresco!

Past Judges