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Lifetime Achievement

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award from Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) is that organization's highest honor. On March 4, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a room filled with the top professional photographers from around the globe, Dad was in for the surprise of his life.

WPPI Awards Ceremony

He must have wondered why my sister flew in for this unusual event. The Lifetime Achievement award is traditionally reserved until the end of the awards night, so you can feel the energy building when you’re sitting in that audience. As it is also not something that is presented every year, it’s truly special when it happens. Those that win it are considered icons within the entire photography industry.

We are forever grateful for our friends in the audience who recorded a short video of the moment.

What "Lifetime" Means To Photographer David Edmonson

Lifetime means a body of work vs. any particular piece of work. More than just a body of work, it’s a body of the full influence you have had in your industry.

I don’t know anybody who would receive this award who doesn't have the attributes of making a positive impact on those around them. The honor is in the recognition, but it doesn’t stop you from what you are doing already. Even if you are not recognized, you should still be doing the same thing because it’s what you are called upon, indeed commanded, to do!

Life and its lessons become an accumulation of what’s behind you. Both make it easier to create and express as an artist by drawing on your visual library of experience as you get older.

I love what Renoir had to say in his later years.

When talking about his approach to painting, he explained, "I think I'm beginning to learn something about it.”Renoir

That's very much how I feel about photography. All that I have learned so far in my career is now the foundation for my future growth. My greatest work is still in front of me. I'm fortunate as well that I'm still relatively young, in good health, and full of spirit.

I’m more passionate than ever about going out and creating truly unique and beautiful narratives and pieces to connect the generations. Almost everyone I know who has reached a certain level of maturity still wants to make a greater difference in the world.

For me, I want to make a difference in the lives of young families because I've learned that’s where our influence starts. From there it grows, from families to neighborhoods, and onward to cities, states, and countries. Before you know it, we’ve made a difference in the world, and it all starts by how we love those closest to us and express it!

My camera is my instrument to communicate love.

Presentation Speech Transcript

It is both an honor and a privilege to be asked to present this award to your father.

Here’s what I had to say.

“Sit back, relax…we won’t be long, but we are going to take a minute to savor a moment together as a family.

The Life Time Achievement Award represents something singular in its nature and its purpose. Past distinguished recipients include Arnold Newman, Monte Zucker, Steven Rudd, Debby & Rick Ferro, Terry Deglau, Bill Hurter, Denis Reggie, Tony Corbell, Bambi Cantrell, Dennis Orchard, Yervant, Joe Buissink, David Williams & last year’s honoree, Cliff Mautner.

"The foundation of the selection process is someone who has served WPPI for many years, is a great educator, and an active force in the industry. We like to look at what that person does not only for WPPI but on a yearly basis as well.To me, there is no honor greater than the one given to you by your peers.”Jason Groupp Director of WPPI

Every once in a while, you get to play a small part in something bigger than yourself. Tonight, this year’s honoree became a Triple Master of WPPI…with their previous Grand Award win it’s only a matter of time before they join the ranks of the Grand Masters. They hold the accolades of Master Photographer & Craftsman through PPA as well as Diamond Photographer of the Year.

And I’ll suggest to you they’d say that none of that mattered.

What is important to them is the love they share with their children and their cherished friends. Others matter to them as do each and every one of us. Their greatest achievements are not what they have accomplished, but what they have helped others do. It’s not in their nature to talk about themselves, so allow me to share a few highlights of their career quickly.

Studying to be a painter, they made their connection with photography by shooting reference art. In 1974, they accepted a position as staff photographers at DTS and over the next ten years, they refined their technique and craft. Freelancing in the evenings, they started their first studio aptly named “The Image Factory”.

After becoming a partner in an advertising firm, by 1983, they had launched their newly renamed studio “Edmonson & Father”. It was explicitly and intentionally named this way to honor his father, Red, who started our family's love affair with Nikon & Hasselblad in the early ’60’s. Together they traveled, shooting Stock Photography that eventually expanded his reach in the Commercial Photography realm.

Over the years, he served on the Board and finally as the President of American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) and helped shape the very system of Copyright Laws that protect all of us today. Later, Magazines turned into Book Covers, and then CD Covers and eventually Annual Reports. Of course, there was always the requisite Portrait and occasionally the dreaded wedding gig for someone he knew.

Describing him, one of his decade’s old clients had this to say.

“His attention to his craft and his natural care for people makes him unique among photographers.”

So 30 years went by, and he revisited Weddings, and WPPI was instrumental in his learning and growing. Now in his 41st year, his ability to conceive, transform, and create with his photography is inspirational.

His most commendable gift?

That has to be his ability to connect, relate, and ultimately genuinely love and show compassion for others. Most people spend the first half of their lives searching for success. If we are lucky, we might spend the remainder searching for significance. Not my father. His biggest investment is in the lives of those around him.

Dad, these are the words that your loved ones say about you.

Kind. Giving. Loving. A man of faith, a faithful man.

This Lifetime Achievement Award may be for his skills and contributions over his years as a photographer. But I believe that is only a small part of his greatest achievements. I count it an honor to be counted (like you) as one of his many friends.

I love you. I am proud of you! I’m thankful to be your son.

It is thus a great honor and privilege to ask David Edmonson to please come to the stage as the 2015 recipient of the WPPI Lifetime Achievement Award.”

How Others Responded To The News

“I love you, David, and love your family!! You are truly an inspirational icon for us all and who this industry needs to learn from! Thank you for adopting me & Jeremy into your photography family. Knowing people like you two keeps us going and moving forward and pass on not only our skills but our generosity, our honesty, our love and passion for photography to touch other people's lives thru photography.Thank you!! Congratulations! PTL!!!!”

Zabrina Deng, Wedding & Fashion Photographer San Francisco, CA, Facebook

“What sets David apart in the wedding industry is that he's always on the cutting edge of photography. He takes his craft very seriously. David is not just a photographer; he is an artist on all levels.Thoroughly considering each and every portrait session from the pre-planning stages to the edited final masterpiece. David's work tells a story that then unfolds in every frame. He captures the depth and creates images that speak to his clients now and will continue to resonate for many generations to come.On a personal note, David always shows up with a smile on his face and arms opened for a hug. He always takes your calls and "likes" your Facebook photos. I'm honestly not sure when David finds the time to sleep and eat because he is always working with amazing passion and ALWAYS loving his family!”

Mary-Frances Hurt, Dallas wedding planner, and owner of DFW Events, E-mail

“It has been my delight to know David Edmonson since he was a kid in my junior high school group back in the 1960s. He was your typical middle-school-age boy --- full of life, lots of fun, a boatload of energy, and a smile that would melt the hardest heart.What a joy it has been to watch him grow into the man he has become! It has been especially gratifying to see how he has cultivated his God-given gift of photography to such an incredible level of professional excellence.In my opinion --- and the opinion of all in the Swindoll family --- David is simply “the best” when it comes to photography. His creativity, competence, understated confidence, and over-the-top ability to capture just the right angle mixed with just the right lighting results in a treasure of photographs that make selecting the best ones a real challenge.In addition to all of that, his easy-going style and contagious sense of humor make spending time with him during a session nothing short of the sheerest pleasure. Inevitably, when I hear about someone needing a photographer, there is one and only one name that emerges without hesitation from my lips: David Edmonson. I congratulate you, my long-time friend, as you receive this much-deserved award!

With loud applause,"

Dr. Chuck Swindle, Author, Speaker, Pastor, E-mail

“Luke Edmonson, was one of the first photographers I met when starting my career. We were at the Thirst Relief Shoot at one of the most beautiful Nevada Ghost Towns, and this man just opened up his heart and with lots of patience taught us all – and in a very practical way – how to make the most out of the environment we were shooting.The following year I met his dad, David, who is a super talented angel fallen from the sky. David is one of those friends who make you feel like a better human being just by being around him. I can’t wait to see him and enjoy my time with him. This last year of his photography efforts has been a tremendous inspiration to me. I could see David’s heart in every single photograph he took and his work almost moved me to tears for how beautiful it was. I am so happy for him this year, as he is honored with WPPI’s Lifetime Achievement Award – which he so richly deserves!”

Marian Bader, Wedding Photographer based in Switzerland, Online

“One day probably 7 years ago I was at my studio in the Cotton Mill, and two gentlemen came into the office area preparing to shoot. We chit-chatted, talked about what we were shooting that day.Most of all, unlike lots of photographers who came past my small studio space, there was an immediate interest in me and what I was doing, no arrogance, no condescending, no belittling, just such a sweet smile and assurance that it was a beautiful space and to enjoy it!I saw both David Edmonson and Luke Edmonson a few times after that meeting, and it was always inspiring. I've followed them and watched what they create in amazing awe.I'm sure they don't remember that day like I do, but you are both inspirational to me in so many ways, and this award is so very well deserved!Congrats Mr. Edmonson!”

Sara Dane Scott - McKinney Newborn & Family Photographer

"There are many talented photographers at WPPI, but there only a few that I really admire and respect.David Edmonson is one of these, and I can't think of anyone who more deserved the Lifetime Achievement Award last night at #WPPI2015.Thank you, David, for being an example for which we should all strive to be not only as a photographer but as a person. If you guys are not following http://www.instagram.com/davidedmonson, you need to do so and do it now."

Kenny Kim - Chicago Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer, Online

Additional Recognition

Learn more about our Awards, Accolades, and co-founding the world's first Certification program for Wedding & Portrait photographers.

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