We’re excited to share the winners of the 2023 Narrative International Photography Awards, which returned in September for its second year! Over 300 participants from around the world entered over 1,000 submissions, and as you’ll see in the winning images, they set the bar substantially high this round. These artists showcased their ability to preserve moments in time with an eye for telling compelling stories across six categories for wedding and portrait photography.

Without further ado, let’s review the winners!

2023 Narrative International Photography Awards Winners

Category 1: Wedding – Tender Moment: Celestine Aerden (Website | Instagram)

Category 2: Wedding – Hilarious Moment: Ester Bazalova (Instagram)

Category 3: Portrait – Emotive Moment: Debi Brett (Website | Instagram)

Category 4: Portrait – Interesting Perspective: Collins Climpson (Website | Instagram)

Category 5: Family – Kids Will Be Kids: Alex Souza (Website | Instagram)

Category 6: Family – Unique Perspective: E.J. Dilley (Website | Instagram)


Check out Narrative’s blog to see all of the honorable mentions.

For those who missed the announcement to enter this year’s awards, here’s a look at the judge’s and some of the benefits of entering an awards contest like this, as well as some tips from past winners.

Meet the 2023 Judges

The esteemed panel of judges bring decades of experience to the table. Here’s a peek at what they looked for in the winning photos.

Melody Joy

Melody Joy (Melody Joy Co.) is a Destination Wedding, Elopement and Editorial photographer based in Edinburgh. When asked what she looks for in a winning image, Melody says, “I would look for… a unique perspective from a photographer’s eye. So if I see the image and can imagine being there, and it’s not how I would have shot it…it’s a unique perspective, something that stands out.” She encourages artists to enter to push their creativity and realize that others appreciate their work.

Jonathan Zoeteman

Jonathan Zoeteman (Socality) is based in Calgary, Alberta, whose work focuses on capturing the story in the image while exploring the relationships between individuals and the world around them. He says the awards offer an opportunity for photographers to challenge themselves creatively by shooting something specifically for the awards. He says, “There’s a power in photography that lets you frame things and leave things out… I love an image that leaves me questioning something or evoking curiosity.”

Kyle Wilson

Kyle Wilson (Hinterland Stills) is a wedding photographer in Chicago and Narrative’s Head of Industry Insight & Education. Kyle believes capturing the emotions of the day is paramount. For him, a winning photo will make him “feel like I’m actually there in the moment… shooting the wedding from the inside out.” Kyle says that entering the awards allows artists to curate their work and identify what’s great and what they want to do better – an incredible opportunity for anyone at any stage of their career.

Why Enter the Narrative International Photography Awards?

There are plenty of reasons to enter your photos into the Narrative International Photography Awards. Here are just a few:

  • Elevate your presence in the photography community.
  • Use it to help market your business.
  • Get used to looking through your work with a critical eye, and also celebrate the amazing work you have been doing.
  • Plus, there are prizes.

Hot Insider Tips from the Masters

Here are a few of the 2022 winners sharing their perspectives on the awards and what contributed to their success.

Sarah DeShields: Website | Instagram

Enowen Photography creative portraits 11.jpg

Sarah DeShields’ winning shot came from one of her “creative play days,” where she wanted to explore working with mirrors. It was a tricky shoot, but the end result took her breath away. She offers three points of advice for anyone entering this year’s awards:

  • “Take down any walls inhibiting you from trying new things.”
  • “Look for the work that speaks to you and makes you come alive.”
  • “Don’t think too much about what you think other people will want to see.”

Erin MacFarland: Website | Instagram

Kids hugging from past winner of 2023 Narrative International Photography Awards

Erin MacFarland’s winning shot captured a sweet moment between twin brothers, a bond she recognised and related to. She entered the photography awards because she likes to see how others react to her images and that she can create an emotional response. Her advice to this year’s entrants is to “pick an image that really spoke to you, something that really touched your heart… it’s most likely going to speak to other people too.”

Caitlin Trainer: Website | Instagram

Family Kids Will Be from past winner of 2023 Narrative International Photography Awards

Caitlin Trainer was inspired to enter the awards because she connected with the categories and felt she had images to share with the world. Her winning photo captures a fun moment with her two boys. She focuses on children and lets them lead the shoot to see what happens. She says to everyone entering the awards, “Don’t second guess yourself. Put it out there… jump in with both feet and give it a shot.”

Nathan Walker: Website | Instagram

Wedding Hilarious Moment from past winner of 2023 Narrative International Photography Awards

Nathan Walker started out in family photography when his first child was born. He says shooting weddings is an opportunity to shoot family photography on a momentous day, so he always keeps his eye on the children to capture that once-in-a-lifetime moment. He recommends entering to help promote yourself: “I know for a fact that I’ve booked weddings on the strength of the work that I’ve shared that’s been awarded.” He recommends only presenting work that you stand by and pushing yourself.

About the 2023 Narrative International Photography Awards

Now in its second year, the 2023 Narrative International Photography Awards celebrate photographers and their creativity. Since 2018, Narrative has put photographers at the heart of what they do, with a mission to revolutionize how photographers interact with their art with cutting-edge software. Narrative would like to thank the awards partners: Archipelago, Unraveled Academy, Queensberry, Studio Ninja, Pic-Time, and SLR Lounge.