My WPPI 2014 Experience

Just wanted to give you an update about my 2014 WPPI experience this year and share my joy — especially with my family in Australia who often wonder what Melissa and I have been up to. As the new directors of the WPPI competition, Melissa Ghionis and I along with the WPPI team, have spent months preparing for the competition and we were excited to see our efforts come to life as we prepared our judges, chairmen and print handlers for the weekend’s competition. Saturday morning arrived and we were so proud to see the competition being run like a well oiled machine. There was a 27% increase in entries this year. Thanks to Jason Groupp, Lauren Wendle and the genius behind the software, Brad Kuhns, we saw everyone embrace the changes. As good as it was, we already know how to make it even better. By the time our competition commitments finished it was time for my “What Would Jerry do?” presentation on Saturday night. Thanks to our very own DJ, Chris Saraiva, Nikon and Westcott the night was a huge success with people dancing, learning and having fun for a perfect energetic start to a great convention. I chose people from the audience and photographed them while was I tethered to the projector so everyone could see every click of my camera. There was standing room only and the energy was electric.

Day 2 of judging was even smoother than Saturday. The crowds in the rooms were bigger as we finished judging all the categories. The last major award was decided by 9pm as Melissa and I finished the first phase of our experience.

Thanks to our amazing team including: Nelly Arruda, Chris Saraiva, Ryan Schembri, Rocco Ancora, Tanya Wilson, Tabitha and Miguel Clarke, Henry Aarvold, Marco and Liz Henry, Lisa and Devon, our Ice Light and Picpockets: World’s Best Photographs booths were set up in no time. The Ice Light was a favorite among attendees as was the Ice Pack which was showcased and sold at the show for the very first time.

I was all set to present my brand new platform program on Tuesday morning. 45 minutes before I was set to present, my Keynote crashed and deleted itself from my computer. A disaster for any presenter. Luckily I backed it up, restored it, jumped in the shower and arrived to a full house. I apologized for being a few minutes late and began my presentation. A day earlier at the tradeshow, a deaf man came up to me and talked to me through his interpreter. He thanked me for creating Picpockets for the iphone as he now can show his clients what he wants them to do and how to pose for him. He said it has changed his life and now is looking forward to a fruitful career despite his hearing impairment. It was a true highlight of the convention for me. I invited him to my platform class on Tuesday morning and welcomed his interpreters on stage so he could not only understand my presentation on Cropping, Composition and Creativity but see the images on screen and see and feel my energy. Let’s just say that I had a ball with the interpreter and found out to communicate some colorful words. I ended my presentation by showing a unique album I produced. The album received the highest score for the single photographer album category but ended up coming 3rd overall. By the end of the album slideshow, the audience erupted in applause and gave me a standing ovation. I had to hold back my tears. I have received standing ovations before when I end with some powerful words but never for simply sharing my work.

At the end of the tradeshow, Melissa and I filled in for Anie Zanazanian (who couldn’t make it) to present a master class on marketing.

By the end of day 2 of the trade show I proudly spoke at the Nikon booth a couple of times and Westcott as well.

We woke up early for Melissa’s master class in the morning on “Fearless Sales.” She presented an incredible program and made a difference to everyone in that room. She looked incredible too btw!

As the last day of the trade show was drawing near, I was putting the finishing touches to the awards night script as I was co-hosting it with none other than one of my best friends, Roberto Valenzuela.

After 2 months of dieting, I lost 10 kilos/22 pounds to fit into my wedding jacket for the awards night. One of the highlights of the night was to see Melissa also in her wedding dress. Wow, she looked even more beautiful than the day she wore it!

We finally started the awards night and Roberto and I had a ball as our natural chemistry as best friends was obvious and we presented people with their trophies. Many of my friends won awards that night including countless Australians! I was proud to win second place (behind Ryan Schembri) in the inaugural In Camera Artistry category. Even before the winners were announced the crowd erupted in applause in their support of a category that celebrates in camera craft.

Overall I received second place in the In Camera Artistry category, 3rd place in Wedding – Single photographer Album category, 12 silver awards, 5 silver distinction awards and 3 gold awards.

Another memorable moment was when I was presented with my Grandmaster of WPPI trophy by Melissa. There was a standing ovation for over a minute and it is a minute that I will remember for the rest of my life. The love and respect that I received from the audience was powerful. I asked members of the audience to stand if I had hugged them during the convention. Over half the audience stood up! In my speech I thanked Melissa and our relationship for being my true success. I went on to acknowledge the negativity and hate in our industry and how we all have a choice. “I choose to remain positive and I choose to love,” I said. Some of the last words I uttered on stage was “WPPI is back!” It truly is. If you missed the experience I sincerely hope to see you next year. To Jason Group, Lauren Wendle, Jacqueline Tobin, Moneer, Jessica, Jodi, Brad, Hillary and the entire WPPI staff…to your and our success! A huge thanks to my team (mentioned above) for your commitment and execution. Your friendship means the world to Melissa and I.

It was a pleasure to meet people for the very first time and to cultivate relationships for those we have met before.

Easily the most tiring but best week of our life. xxoo


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A perfect movie for the new year and some thoughts I want to share for 2014….

You have to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty! I have seen it twice in over a week. It’s one of my favorite movies ever! Great story and premise. The cast is perfect and there is a great balance of humor, drama, action and it has an ending that doesn’t disappoint. There is something in it for everyone but you will appreciate it even more as a photographer. Apart from the amazing photography in it, there many things that resonated with me.

We spend our lives immortalizing moments for others and often at the expense of our own. I encourage you to use what you do for a living to create a life for yourself rather than be robbed of it. I understand that we are all at different stages of our career and sometimes we have to work our butts off to just survive let alone thrive. But the problem is that as photographers we don’t know where to draw the line. I encourage you to turn off the computer by 6pm every weeknight. If you are not shooting a wedding on the weekend, don’t touch the computer. Enjoy your life with your loved ones. That email can wait. That job can wait. Don’t worry, they’ll be there in the morning. Use your photography to create and protect your happiness.

Another thing that the movie reminded me of is that how many people try to preserve a moment that didn’t even exist. How many times have you been to an amazing place like the Eiffel Tower for example and no sooner than people get to it, they are taking out their iphones to preserve the moment that didn’t even exist rather than soaking it in.

I remember presenting a workshop in Rome a couple of years ago. I timed being at the Colosseum at sunset. The burnt orange light was kissing the Colosseum. After creating a few shots, the body language of my students was suggesting “Where do we go now?” Over half the class had never been to Rome, let alone seen the Colosseum. I asked everyone to put their cameras down and soak it in. The play of light in the following 15 minutes or so was breathtaking. I will never forget that moment. Half the class were in tears by the time we left our vantage point.

Melissa and I were at a Harry Connick Junior concert and Harry actually stopped his performance to ask a fan to stop filming. She thought he was joking. Harry said, “I’m right here, enjoy me now.” How many times do we try to show the rest of the world “how great our life is” when we are not truly soaking in every moment. A quote from Sean Penn’s character that I enjoyed is “beauty doesn’t ask for attention.” I won’t spoil it for you but there is another quote you will enjoy from him as well about being in the moment.

Ultimately anyone’s job will take time away from their families but if we are paid to immortalize moments for others at the expense of our own that has to be worth something. Yes, we all start somewhere and to this day I do many personal shoots for free. But if someone is commissioning you to create some photographs, then that is a different story. When charging a client, ask yourself, “What will make feel ok to leave my own family to immortalize moments for other families?” When people don’t pay anything or next to nothing, they don’t respect or value you or your service. Work hard at your craft and your business. You ultimately get the clients you deserve.

I believe true happiness starts with knowing who you are and being with people you love and who love you unconditionally. No judgment, no negativity. Once your basic necessities are met, it doesn’t take a lot of money to live happily. Most circumstances are beyond our control but I believe happiness is a choice. Time, love, health, family and friends are the most important things in life. I live an extraordinary life with Melissa Ghionis but we treasure the simple things the most. The thing is, we know it. We appreciate and are thankful for everything. We take nothing for granted. We work hard to protect and preserve our happiness. Melissa Ghionis and I wish you the same clarity and happiness for the 2014 and beyond. To your success!


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The Ice Light Short Film (Including behind the scenes footage)

My primary goal with this commercial was, of course, to create a piece that would show the Ice Light itself and the quality of light it produces. But I didn’t want it to be a dry, boring infomercial. Instead, I wanted to create a short film that included a distinct storyline with humorous elements in it, similar to what you would see in a Super Bowl commercial. I wanted to take the viewer on a cinematic journey and so I also needed the production value to be epic. It took a full year of conceptualizing then meticulously storyboarding every single scene. I hired one of Australia’s leading filmmakers, Abraham Joffe and his incredible team from Untitled Film Works to film and edit the commercial in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia. After feeling like I ran a marathon over two long days (shooting into the early morning each day), all of the footage was finally captured. I can honestly say that producing, directing and being featured in the film was one of the most stimulating and creative things I have done so far in my career. It was an incredible experience. I really hope you enjoy it as much as my team and I did creating it! A huge thanks to the whole cast and crew for your hard work, dedication and commitment to excellence. Abraham, I am in awe of what you do. Thanks for convincing me to hire the chopper. I have never run so much in my life! A special thanks to my mom for stealing the show at the end! You’ll see…

So here is the behind the scenes video of the Ice Light commercial from the incredible team at Untitled Film Works. Enjoy!

Producer and Director – Jerry Ghionis
Director of Photography – Abraham Joffe
Editer – Hayley Yeoh
Camera Assistants – Wissam Abdallah, Turei Cooze
Aerial – Toby De Jong
Story – Jerry Ghionis
Production – Untitled Film Works
Hair and Make Up Artist – Saphire Gaskas
Music courtesy of Triple Scoop Music
“The Call” by Will Thomas
“A Call to Battle” by Bobby Cole
Filmed in Melbourne, Australia
Copyright 2013 All rights reserved

Photographer – Jerry Ghionis
Photographer’s Assistant – Melissa Ghionis
Model – Mary Vitinaros
Sexy Couple – Sarah Valmai and Tyson Collins
Mother – Myrian Di Chiara
Daughter – Tayla Di Chiara
Son – Braeden Di Chiara
Old Lady – Frosso Ghionis (Jerry’s Mother)

Ice Light photo
Ice Light photo


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I am a Nikon Ambassador

I am proud to announce that I was chosen to be among 16 Nikon USA Ambassadors and only one of two people chosen who specialize in photographing weddings. The other wedding photographer, my great friend and the man who I call the “Bruce Springsteen” of the wedding industry is none other than Cliff Mautner. I have huge respect for Cliff and his work. The other 14 photographers come from a variety of genres and I am so honored to be even mentioned in the same breath as these world class photographers, let alone be an ambassador for one of the largest and most respected brands in the world!

One of my first cameras was the Nikon FM2. It was a fully manual camera, a genuine workhorse which I still own today. My first digital camera was the Kodak DCS 760, which was modelled after the Nikon F5. It cost me over $18,000! I even considered myself lucky at the time because it cost over $40,000 the year before. I then bought the Nikon D100, which was a better camera and a fraction of the price. I switched to a different camera system and moved back to black with Nikon’s release of the D3s a few years ago. Read the story here. I’ve always found the ergonomics better with Nikon. It always felt like an extension of my hand and eye. The speed and accuracy of focus is superior and most of all the performance at high ISOs is better than anything else on the market. Now that I am using the Nikon D4, I can’t even imagine how much better a camera can get but I am looking forward to a bright future with Nikon.

I have always felt passionate about photography and consider it a responsibility to inspire, challenge and educate the new generation of photographers. Now, as an ambassador of Nikon USA, my commitment is even stronger to influence the industry in a positive way, to embrace new technologies while staying true to the craft.

A huge thanks to Mike Corrado and the entire Nikon team for their support and for this incredible opportunity.

Here is official press release:
Nikon Ambassadors are some of the most talented and influential visual artists working in the business today. These gifted, spirited storytellers go above and beyond most, and are admired for their passion, energy and commitment to their craft. Their investment in, and trust, of the Nikon brand are cornerstones to their image making abilities.
As a loyal Nikon partner, Nikon Ambassadors’ commitment and contributions to the photographic industry throughout their careers have influenced and inspired photographers around the world; while their desire to educate and empower other image makers around them has become a part of their daily business. From workshops to trade show platforms, online learning and social media; Nikon Ambassadors represent the most versatile and ambitious photographers today. These visual artists are respected around the globe for their vision and accomplishments.
The dedication to advancing the art of visual storytelling while embracing and mastering the latest technologies and trends in the field are paramount to these photographers being selected as Nikon Ambassadors.
As the top visual storytellers of this era, their advanced techniques, unprecedented creativity and tenacious approach to imaging solutions is demonstrated assignment after assignment, each and every time they pick up a Nikon camera. Meet all the Nikon USA Ambassadors.


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2 thoughts on “The Ice Light

  1. Sarah Kaglik – I have shared on faboeock and liked your page. What beautiful work i just love the pics ..can i get more info from you for possible family sesssion as well as a boudoir, ive lost 20 lbs and personal training so i can lose another 15 ..almost there and would love to take a beautiful classy pic of the NEW ME in the upcoming months ..;-)

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