Everybody loves winning awards. It’s great to be recognized. Another thing everybody likes is exposure that can lead to more work and money. Former wedding photographer and founder of Fearless Photographers Huy Nguyen has managed to supply both options to freelancers around the world.
Four years ago, Nguyen created a directory aimed at helping couples find the best possible photographers for their weddings. Today, Fearless Photographers has over 3,000 members in over 90 countries. Although the service spans the globe, it breaks down its content locally so couples can find the best photographers in a given area.
So what’s a Fearless Award and why do you want one if you’re a wedding photographer?
“We serve couples by listing the best photographers at the top of each location,” Nguyen said. “The best photographers were defined as the photographers who earned the most Fearless Awards. Fearless Awards are images that our curators deem outstanding in their originality, craftsmanship, or excellence.”
The site has become known for its “Top 20 Fearless Photographers” list it publishes every 18 months. Every other month, Nguyen and his staff of curators sift through thousands of photographs, judging each one to decide who gets a Fearless Award. Nguyen and his team look for “amazing light, awesome composition and a fantastic moment” when evaluating candidates. Every time a photographer gets an award, he or she get bumped up the list for that particular region area.
“We don’t believe in excluding anyone, but any photographer listed must have a professional wedding photography working website,” Nguyen told Canada Photo Convention. “We believe that every photographer should be given an opportunity to compete to be ranked at the top of his/her location and be seen by couples. Where a photographer is listed [by] location is actually up to the photographer. Only their craft will get them to the top of this list.”
Fearless is now on their 24th Top 20 list. The contest is more or less a free-for-all open to any wedding photographers who want to try their luck. But even though it’s easy to join the directory, less than two percent of entrants win awards. According to Nguyen, consistency is a significant factor in the decision-making process.
“To get on the Top 20 list, the photographer must be among the top 20 Fearless Awards earners,” he added. “Fearless Awards are extremely difficult to get. Every Collection, we receive about 13,000 entries and award about 250 Fearless Awards.”
Fearless counts some of the most renowned wedding photographers in the world as members. Spain-based photographer Rocia Vega, who has earned four Fearless Awards, said being a member serves a purpose beyond the accolades and exposure.
“Fearless is a way of living, of getting out of your comfort zone and breaking your own boundaries,” Vega said. “I found great pictures from so many photographers I didn’t know about. So I joined and sent my first pictures to the contest. When I saw my picture in the middle of all those great images I couldn’t believe it. Since then I always have Fearless in my mind, not for the fact of getting the award, but because it pushes me to be a better photographer, to risk and fight for a better image.”