zero-to-hero-graemerogers Zero to Hero Story from Graeme Rogers

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Graeme Rogers

 21st Jan 2020

Hello, my name is Graeme,

This is my story of how I unintentionally got the photography bug, the best way I can do this is by completing it in an interview style - in a bid to keep to the main points. Plus I don’t really like talking about myself so I'm doing this as if someone was asking me the questions, then hopefully I'll cover everything - my camera now is a Nikon D7500.

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When did your interest in photography start?

I used to be more in to video and had little interest in photography. About 10 or 12 years ago my son started to play football, he became a goalkeeper and wanted the big 'diving across the goal' shot - the point and shoot camera I had at the time wasn’t really up to it.  I decided to get an entry level DLSR, a Sony SLT A33 (it actually died and about 6 months later, I took it back to a well known UK electrical store exchanging it for a Sony SLT A58). I got this particular camera as I'd planned on using it as a video camera more than for stills, at this point I still had no real interest in photography. I bought some books and got a camera magazine to try and help me to get the money shot of my son in the goal. 

I have a few health issues, the main one being uncontrolled epilepsy, with stress as the main trigger for it. Having a son as a goalkeeper can be very stressful to watch, it seemed anything and everything that went wrong on the pitch was his fault! To combat this I started photographing his matches, I found this less stressful because I was having to concentrate on taking the photos - as well as watching his match.

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What inspires you to shoot?

A few things:

  • Having the ability to help someone who needs a photo/s
  • Trying new things - I don’t  stick to one type of photography
  • When I do family or children photos I like the joy it gives them when they see the finished photo all framed up for them
  • Finding something I wasn’t looking for if I'm out with my camera - a few years back now my wife and I went to Saltwell Park in Gateshead early one morning to photograph the park. We saw some squirrels which I didn’t know would be there - I like the creativity it gives although I struggle with this at times too

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What types of photos do you normally take?

Even thought my son has stopped playing football I still like doing match photos and the team and player profile photos (I’ve found it doesn’t matter what age a footballer is they all want a good action photo - generally for their Facebook profile).

Since Feb 2019 I've been doing a lot of model photography (more on that later) but I will try anything I believe I can do. When I first started I took a lot of scenic and landscape but health has put this on the back burner lately.

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What struggles have you faced in photography and how did you cope?

At first a total lack of ability and zero confidence.

I was never any good at school so when I would try and read the books and magazines it was a real struggle, (thank God for Youtube) like I said before I have some heath issues - I'm epileptic and I can just drop without warning. Also the side effect of the epilepsy is my hands now have a shake to them, not good for trying to keeping a camera still. I also have chronic lower back back pain, cervical spondylosis in my neck, and to top it off all I have osteoarthritis in my knees! Other than that I’m fine...

How do I cope with this? Well I have a wonderful wife who helps me a lot, she will drive to places I need to be at (even if it's her bingo night) and a whole lot more. As for my epilepsy it's a case of suck and see and what happens happens. I always have a hood on my lens in case I do have a seizure, the front of the lens has some protection and the rest - good medicine helps.

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Who inspires you?

I promise you this answer isn’t a suck up or anything like that. I never really had anyone until January 2018 when I was really sick in bed for a few weeks, I wanted to occupy my mind with photography so I went on YouTube and I came across a British guy giving training on everything  (no disrespect to our USA friends he was speaking British English...) - you may have guessed it was Mike Browne! I’ve only watched his videos and live streams since (there was one time I didn't watch it live as my favourite football was live on Sky but I did go back and watch Mike's livestream later).

Mike Browne is the only photographer and probably the only person ever to really inspire me to master my interest.

What photography projects are you proudest of?

There is a bit of a story to this... In June 2018 I was asked by a friend to photograph his wedding in the summer of 2020 (you may remember I've only really done football photography, some family stuff and I did my friend's son christening). So late 2018 my friend told me they have brought the wedding forward to July 2019 - I had to get a lot better and quick! 

I started going to a local studio once a month and they would put on a creative night where photographers and models and MUA would get together. That helped me a lot by taking photos of people I didn’t know (which I found a problem when I did my friends son's christening) but by far the best think I did was get Mike's 7 building blocks of photography. About a week before the wedding my friend had a big C scare so that put even more pressure on me - rather I put more pressure on me to get it right. 

I was terrified I would spoil the day by having a seizure with the stress and pressure I felt during the event - I did the whole day, just.

My friend and his wife and their families and friends were all delighted with my photos, so this is the project I’m most proud of for a number of reasons. I’m proud I didn't have a seizure and I'm extremely proud of the photos I took, there was some I should have got better and maybe have done differently, but we live and learn.

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Any advice to inspire other photographers?

This is something I do when I meet a new photographer - I direct them to look up Mike Browne.

If there’s one thing you wish you'd known when starting out in photography, what was it?

I could put a few things here, but for me (and I’m still not being a suck up) I wish I had known of Mike Browne truthfully much sooner. Thanks to Mike I feel more comfortable saying I’m an amateur photographer instead of someone quite good at taking photos.

Anything you'd like to add?

I never taken a penny for any photos I shoot (I sometimes may ask for petrol money or if I print something). I get told by people I'm a mug not getting money from my photography but what they all seem to miss is without photography my life would be so much harder - I’m unfortunately unable to work due to my heath issues.

Doing photography keeps my mind occupied and give me an interest and something to focus on.    

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Helping people see more beauty in the world every day by thinking like a photographer