zero-to-hero-bob-willers Zero to Hero Story from Bob Wellers
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Bob Willers

 13th May 2018

I had a bit of a breakdown after losing my mum, dad and elder brother to cancer in a very short period of time, this led to a divorce and family breakup for almost three years (reconciled now). At the time of writing this I’m 62 and forcibly retired from a long career as a PCV/LGV owner driver. Like, Mike Browne I started out with nothing, just a desire to make something for myself rather than working for a boss. Don't get me wrong, I'm not after sympathy votes, just the opposite as I am more annoyed with my body than feel sorry for myself.


In the early 90s I used the Job Centre to help get my operators qualifications, swapped and sold a few bits to buy an old minibus and took it on an aid mission to Romania. Swapped it for a van and went out again... I finally found work for it but the loads were heavier so I crossed to HGV (although 90 days was a long time to wait to get paid) after six years of struggle I was out with a brand new MAN heading for Eastern Europe and a couple of UK motors… then I had a mishap with a load putting me on my back...

I managed to pass the business on and get out of the vehicle leases breaking even with no debt, but also no money and destined to be on benefits for a while. I returned to coach driving but soon it was my turn to fall victim to cancer. I had two years of hell during which time I taught myself to build web pages by back engineering the codes on sites I liked, that’s where my interest in photography started.

The Nose

Following the purchase of a Fujifilm DX10 0.75mp camera and subsequent upgrades of Fuji pocket and bridge cameras, I took part in daily photo challenges learning more and more, and my interest grew. In the early days I borrowed books by Bryan Peterson and watched his videos to get tips and soon I had progressed to DSLR purchasing my brand new entry level Sony A330. Try as I might I could not get good photos no matter what camera or lens; the settings were correct, focus was confirmed; I used a tripod but they were still soft and hazy, still I carried on as others said they were good - it kept them happy and me busy, but frustrated.


Once out of the woods with the cancer I had the urge to start up again and so scraped some cash together for an old school minibus. I secured a school contract and had another three years of working for myself with my own motors (I even got in the credits of "The Numbers Station" film as minibus driver) and driving big stuff for other companies. As winter drew near I became uneasy driving at night,  the oncoming lights were doing strange things which had never been a problem before. An eye test revealed I had cataracts so had to stop until I had surgery. Once my eyesight had been corrected, my old photos took on a whole new look to I got busy improving.


I found Mike's videos and was soon hooked by his easy to understand explanations. 

I can't afford any more upgrades although I did get a used Sony A100  which has Mirror lock up and DoF button not included on the newer A330. My lenses are all basic such as the Sony 18-55 and 75-300, a Sony 50mm 1.8, a 1990s Cosina Macro lens and my latest purchase (down to your video from Cambodia), a (sub £20) Helios 44-4 and adapter. The older camera (£75) and manual lenses are my favourites proving once again it's not the cost of the gear that dictates the quality of the image...



As time goes by I'm falling apart more and now with arthritis I have to restrict my walking to short distances, therefore most of my images are from my garden or immediate surroundings, from the car and nearly always are close up. If interested my efforts can be found here

I had to part with my lovely BMW K100rs as it was too heavy to hold (the shame of it) and now have a Piaggio X9 250cc scooter for the rare days when I can ride, but, in it's favour, it has great storage for camera gear under the seat.