This photo earned a Vancouver couple the title of world's best wedding photographers
Jeff and Cat Chang captured the otherworldly shot at a wedding in Whistler, B.C., in July
It took some rain, a sword and a telephoto lens for Jeff and Cat Chang to capture one of the best wedding photos of the year.
The International Wedding Photographer of the Year Awards, which started in 2017 and recognizes the best wedding photography around the globe, named the Vancouver couple as the world's top wedding photographers this year.
Their striking portrait of a couple's Whistler, B.C., wedding last July also earned them the award for couple portrait of the year.
"It was a huge surprise," said Jeff Chang, 34, on Wednesday, a week after learning the news. "It doesn't feel real still."
The photo in question is otherworldly. Flecks of rain appear like stars as the couple stands against a black building. The groom, Julian, jabs a traditional sword in the air, his expression mischievous and defiant, as his bride, Pia, leans back and laughs.
Jeff physically hit the shutter button, but says his wife, Cat, who is co-owner of their wedding photography business in Vancouver, was just as instrumental to capturing the photo.
"I give Cat equal, if not even a hair more per cent, in terms of credit."
'Not going to have photography regret'
The couple they photographed travelled from the Philippines for a two-day wedding that incorporated Western wedding traditions and elements of the couple's Indian background.
The wedding was hit with sunshine, pouring rain and blustery winds. At one point, the sun emerged as rain fell, lighting up the raindrops. Chang sensed the moment was fleeting.
"I decided I'm not going to have a photography regret," he recalled.
Chang staged the couple against a black building and stood about 15 metres away with a 135 mm lens. He shouted directions to Cat, who relayed the information to the couple as they tested out shots.
Then he remembered the groom's sword and asked him to pull it out.
"Julian, the groom, went for it and just picked it up and shouted," he said. "That was the funniest thing in the world and so [Pia] just laughed at his ridiculousness."
When he reviewed the photos, Chang knew he had the shot.
And evidently, so did the six judges (the panel included wedding photographers from Singapore, Australia and the Caribbean).
They whittled down hundreds of submissions among 11 categories and awarded the grand prize to the couple, which includes $3,000 in cash and a $1,250 Epson printer.
"It's a really good feeling," Chang said, "to know that we got a shot that we were exceptionally proud of."