zero-to-hero-deanminett Zero to Hero Story from Dean Minett

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Dean Minett

 19th Jan 2021

Ever since the 70’s when my older brother gave me a battered second-hand Zenith 35mm camera I’ve been keen on photography. This was used to moderate success at various air shows we attended, despite me not knowing what the heck I was doing.

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My lack of knowledge continued throughout the 80’s and 90’s during which time I took very few photos, even though I bought a couple more second-hand cameras. My time was taken up by work, study and life in general.

Whilst on holiday one year I made an impulse purchase and jumped on the DSLR bandwagon - but still had no real idea of how to use it  and how to turn what I was looking at into a half-decent image. That camera ended up being put into the loft, where it still rests to this day…

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Many years of spending my evenings sitting in front of the TV or putting my leisure time to no good use followed before I finally decided to put my mind towards finding a proper hobby. In the best traditions of jumping in at the deep end, I decided (and I cannot believe it’s nearly four years ago already) that it was time to learn how to operate a camera properly.

Armed with still not much of an idea of what I was doing but with a clearer idea of what I wanted to achieve, and an appreciation for the current technical capabilities of these mysterious black boxes (courtesy of hours spent reading magazines and pouring over the internet) I visited my local camera shop. After hours of trying this camera and that camera – and, I have to say, some really excellent advice – I exchanged my hard-earned cash for a new body and a couple of second-hand lenses to get me going.

So, first step done, I had the kit. What next? Join a local camera club - easy! Twice-weekly meetings; outings during the summer months; meeting new people with a shared interest and who were willing to share their knowledge and ideas. Membership, along with magazine and internet articles all gave me a good working knowledge of the camera’s functions and how to start meeting my goals.

But what to take pictures of? And how to get the image I want?

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I have always been interested in pretty much anything with an engine in it and, to somewhat balance this mechanical fascination, wildlife. But then, I have also dabbled in macro, water-drop and  high-speed flash photography – with the assistance at times of home-built microprocessor aided gizmos; the attention to detail required by these disciplines is immense and I have nothing but the greatest of admiration to those who commit to them.

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And then the real magic began… I found this thing called YouTube, and then this chap called Mike Browne. What an eye-opener (quite handy considering!)… pretty much all the help and information any aspiring photographer could ever want, delivered in a common-sense, down-to-earth, and easy-going manner.

Since unravelling the basic mysteries of camera operations, his videos have really pulled everything together and made me think a lot more about the whole process of capturing an image. And, to prove that 2020 wasn’t ALL bad, the #PLD Facebook group he and his team set up has been terrific, with so many great, active members of all abilities giving help and support.

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Where has all this led me? For the first time this year I produced a calendar for family and friends. Hardly world-breaking photojournalism I know, but the buzz I got from the feedback really put a smile on my face. Similarly, recognition from members of both #PLD and my camera club at ‘competition’ level.

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And what for the future? Hopefully, an answer to the current COVID-19 pandemic will be found, allowing us to get out and about and start being normal folk again, once more able to take photos out and about and with people we love.

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I continue to practice all aspects of photography; not just trying different ways to do what I’ve done in the past, but attempting new things too. Above all, I’m keeping everything ready for when that magical near-perfect opportunity presents itself.

Oh – and to continue having fun while “being a photographer” - the most important thing.

Dean Minett