Monthly Archives: March 2012

Well, last night was crazy. The AIPP – Australian Institute for Professional Photography hosted its yearly award gala here in Brisbane and I was there with Jacqui and some of my friends. I like awards, not because they’re a measure of greatness, but it’s nice to do something different now and then. Creating great prints is a craft and something I’m still very much learning. I like sitting in my studio working with photoshop, printing on nice paper, correcting, fiddling, printing again until you have a print you’re happy with.

Last year I won the QLD AIPP Wedding Album of the Year for the album I created for Nick and Surya, a result I was over the moon with. I also managed to come runner up as wedding photographer of the year behind my good buddy, Todd.

This year I entered four wedding images and an album. I’ve learned no to expect too much, the competition is extremely fierce and the judging is tough.

I had a pretty shit day leading up to the gala to be honest. First my plane was cancelled and then delayed again from Sydney and then I got stuck in traffic trying to get home to suit up for the night. Having shot two weddings, 30 hours, on Saturday and Sunday also added to the pain. We arrived late, sat down and almost immediately they started announcing awards. My main man, Todd, managed to snatch Wedding Album of the Year with an amazing entry, I came runner up. The next one up was for the Highest Scoring Print out of all entries and I almost fell off the chair when they announced I had won it. I honestly couldn’t believe it.

When they were about to announce Wedding Photographer of the Year, I think my heart stopped for a second. When they said “and the winner is…Jonas Peterson”, I blacked out.

The last award of the night is the big kahuna – Professional Photographer of the Year.

All the category winners are judged against each other and an overall winner is picked. Standing on the podium I looked around, some of the finest photographers in the country were standing next to me and I looked at them to check their reaction when one of their names would be called out as the Grand Prize Winner.

When my name was announced instead, I knew I was dreaming.

The rest of the night is a blur infused by champagne and high fives and I’m feeling it today.

QLD AIPP Highest Scoring Print
QLD AIPP Wedding Album of the Year R/U 
QLD AIPP Wedding Photographer of the Year
QLD AIPP Professional Photographer of the Year.

Jonas Peterson.


I can only share one image for now since the album, the highest scoring print and two other prints are being entered into other awards.
This one won a silver distinction at 88. You can view it large here.

When I visited South Africa last month I was planning on going on a township tour in one of the larger shanty towns in Cape Town. I didn’t want to go and take photos of poor people, I wanted to meet them and understand their situation. When I told the attendees of my workshop this, Werner, one of them, asked me if I wanted the real deal or just a tour. I told him that I wanted to meet some real people, talk to them and hopefully get them to invite me in.

Werner told me he works as a volunteer in one of the poorest makeshift settlements on the Cape Peninsula. There’s shanty towns and then there’s the slums to the shanty towns.

This particular one is called Overcome Heights.

The organisation he volunteers for is called True North and they’re doing some amazing work. If you feel you want to help or support them financially in their cause, I know it would be appreciated.

When I arrived, I really didn’t know what to expect. I had been told Overcome Heights was a very dangerous place ruled by gangs. Over 70% of the people in the settlement are substance abusers. Many have HIV. And yet I noticed very little of that. I met people making the most of their situation. I saw pride. Love. And human spirit.

Life always finds a way.

Werner started off by taking me to a kindergarten. As soon as I walked in I was jumped by 30 kids who wanted to hug and kiss me. All my concerns disappeared there and then. The overwhelming love I felt from the people in Overcome Heights, people shaking my hand, telling me their stories, others wanting me to take their photos, will always stay with me.

I didn’t see poor people.

I saw people.

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All images shot on film with a Pentax 67ii.

music credit: Homeless – Ladysmith Black Mambazo (iTunes)

I wrote something stupid on Facebook the other night.

Basically I was having a go at a guy who keeps posting about how awesome he is and I ended up writing something shitty directed at the world. A lot of other people took offense and I erased it, but that’s not why I’m writing now. I just can’t figure out why I wrote it in the first place. I left a long career behind where I rarely if ever came home from work feeling I had accomplished anything worthwhile or made anyone’s life better.

And now I do all the time.

And that is awesome.

Not every shot I take is taking photography forward or re-shaping the business as we see it. But that doesn’t matter. In my workshops I talk about not looking at other wedding photographers for inspiration and that greatness is something we find within.

Black belt is a frame of mind.

So complaining about some random dude’s douchbaggery seems a little strange in hindsight. My whole social media presence can be interpreted as one long humble brag – here I am, tomorrow I’m flying here, eating mussels in Peru, oh, sorry, now I’m sipping margaritas in Stellenbosch.

Live and let live.

Shooting weddings is life-affirming and that in itself is awesome. Having a good afternoon in a park with a great couple can be equally fantastic. Receiving an email about how our images made someone cry DOES change worlds – our clients’ and ours.

So why not celebrate that?

I shot a wedding yesterday.

It was awesome.