When it comes to weddings, it’s no secret that a bride wants everything to go perfect on the big day. One of the most important guests at the wedding is the photographer. For Honolulu-based Dwight Okumoto, it’s always been about capturing those special moments.
Once the Sunset Image Awards opened for submissions, Okumoto knew he had a few great entries for the “Wedding” category. After the judging was finished, two of his images had captured the attention of the panel. “Elegance” took first place and “Spirited” placed third.
“I took those during the COVID shutdown. The wedding was downsized from 300 attendees to 10,” says Okumoto. “I assured her that we would make it work. We were able to spend more time on the photography and try different locations.”
With few people milling about town, Okumoto and the beautiful bride were able to set up some shoots at local government buildings. “We tried to make the most of the time and tried different locations on the same day,” he says. “What was great for us was the lighting, because it was so flat.”
“Spirited” is his personal favorite of the images he submitted. “It really showed off her gown and that was my intent,” says Okumoto. “I wanted to photograph the back of it and show all the lacing. I thought it was very feminine.”
But after 40 years in the industry, he also knows that when it comes to competitions, the judges usually like to see the details in the face. “I know judges like closeup headshots and portraits seem to score better than when you try to show the entire dress,” he says.
Looking back over the years he’s spent capturing important family moments for others, it’s a member of Okumoto’s own family who led him to pick up a camera for the first time. “It was an older cousin. I was 8 years old, and he was 11,” he says. “He was always interested in photography, and we had Instamatic cameras, way back then. That’s how I got interested in photography.”
Once he went pro, Okumoto started working with Don Emmerich, a pioneer in commercial photography. “Don was a technical advisor with PPA during the 90s and into the 2000s,” he says. “He was doing commercial photography with film and did beta testing with digital cameras for Eastman Kodak. He also got me interested in dry lab and wide-format printers.”
Whether he’s picking up an Instamatic camera for the first time or capturing a bride’s special day, Dwight Okumoto certainly knows the importance of finding the right setting, lighting, and staging to create award-winning photos.
If you are interested in submitting your creative wedding shots for a chance to win $300, you can enter the current Sunset Image Awards HERE. Not a wedding photographer? That’s OK, enter in Fine Art/Composite, Portrait, or Wildlife/Landscape.