Rangefinder Magazine Award: We are one of 30 Rising Stars 2020

Mila & Stephan Rangefinder Rising Stars 2020

It took a little time to understand and to believe it‘s true – We have won one of the most important international Awards given to the best wedding photographers in the world. We are one of Rangefinder 30 Rising Stars in this unforgettable year 2020. But let me tell you our story first…

I will never forget this day – It was a rainy evening at Lake Como, the day before we should shoot at the Villa Balbiano, one of the most recognisable wedding venues in Italy. Usually, I calm down the day before, concentrate on all my ideas which I want to implement in my photos, check my mood boards and make the last preparations. This time it was different – I was sitting on the covered balcony in front of my computer reading this: “Just one last reminder that Monday, September 21 at 11:59 p.m. EDT is the final deadline to submit to Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography competition 2020”. It was already Monday, September 21. Three hours before the submission deadline ends… For some reason, I haven’t received the first E-Mail with the information that we’ve been nominated by wedding professionals for the RF 30 Rising Stars Award. That meant, we can submit to the competition 30 pictures that represent our work to the jury in New York.

Stephan and I had only three hours to rewatch all our work from the last five years, to select these 30 best pictures and to fill the longest submission form I have ever seen… Ohh it was not so easy for me, especially under such time pressure! Thank you, Stephan, for your calmness and peace of mind, I thought I wouldn’t manage it without you, I was in such a hectic rush! We even didn’t have all our pictures on the laptop in Italy, so we have just downloaded some photos from our homepage (in very small resolution, but somehow the submissions form has accepted this) and a couple of minutes before the deadline ended we’ve managed to do it! Ufffff!…

Frankly speaking, Stephan was pretty skeptical about our chances to win. But I always believe that nothing happens by chance in our life. If I have seen this last reminder EMail from RF Senior Editor Libby, it should be the sign for us to act and use this chance. More than 200 photographers from all over the world were nominated for the RF 30 awards and we all had to wait until November for the editors’ choice …

On one November evening, I opened my emails and saw the message from Rangefinder with the subject The 30 Rising Stars Decision. I started to read it: “We are sorry to let you know that you were not chosen for…” I switched off my mobile phone, I even haven’t read the text till the end. I was asking – Why? Sitting on the bed stroking our cat Watson and looking at one point I was thinking what the message the Universe gives me through this E-Mail? Probably it’s not so good that I’m too proud of myself and my work and I need to be more humble and happy with small things from everyday life.

Half an hour later I opened my emails again – It was the second E-Mail from RF with the same subject – DECISION. I read it and couldn’t believe what I’ve read – We were by accident added to the wrong mailing list at first: “You are 2020 Rangefinder 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography! Congratulations!!!” I went to the living room where Stephan was sitting on the sofa, also very sad – He had read the first E-Mail a couple of minutes ago. He couldn’t understand why I was laughing and hugging him until I showed him the second E-Mail. Wow! He didn’t expect that our photo selection (that we’ve picked in so much rush) was so convincing for the jury. But it was true – We had to wait till the 1st of December – the date when all the winners will be announced. We couldn’t tell this to anyone till this time.

Now we can speak it out – Thank you, Rangefinder Magazine & WPPI for this uplifting moment and the recognition of our work, we are so overwhelmed and honored! Looking back to the last five years we just want to say BIG THANKS to all our couples for their trust and inspiration they give us, to all vendors we were working with – without your amazing work all these pictures would not exist – and to all kind people that supported us on our way! To my big Love Stephan – I can’t be grateful enough for your patience and love that you give me every day, despite my quick-changing mood 😉 And to our parents, who always believed in us.
I’m always thinking about my childhood in Siberia, we were living in a grey polluted city in the middle of nowhere – My mother always told me that one day I’ll manage to escape it and to see the beautiful world. Even the way to my dream life in Europe was very long and full of obstacles, I’ll be always endless grateful for every individual and every experience – Because they made me into the person who I am now.

– Mila & Stephan