zero-to-hero-stephen-bray Zero to Hero Story from Stephen Bray
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Stephen Bray

 17th Jan 2018

My Photo Journey

I first pick up a camera when I was 15 years of age, a cheap Pentax film camera that I got for Christmas. One of the first pictures I took was of my sister's rabbits, which later got me a runner up award in an under 16 competition. I was over the moon, I started to take more photos and spent all the money I had on film and getting them developed - only to be very disappointed.  I knew the results I wanted but it never turned out the way I imagined the shot in my head.

I always wanted to draw but couldn't draw a straight line with a ruler so thought photography would be the better option. I’ve seen such great photos in books and magazines and thought I could get the same results just by picking up a camera and shooting away, how wrong I was! Way back then there was no YouTube to help me and I was not a fan of reading books, so I just gave up. I put the camera away and forgot about it.

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So 40 years had passed and my wife bought me a camera for Christmas (here we go again I thought), this time my wife said 'Just take some shots, have fun and look on the internet to find someone to learn from...' So I put a search into YouTube and found Mike Browne; this overweight, scruffy looking guy. However after watching one or two of his videos things started to make sense to me - about getting the right light, compositions, rules of thirds etc... I thought some of my first photos looked good but looking back on them now - maybe they weren't, but I was having fun! 

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I'd left the army with a very bad injury and needed something to help me with the stress, I won't bore you with the details but I am now a disabled photographer deaf in one ear and only have one leg, I was getting into the same trap trying to run before I could walk. I tried again, I took my time watching a few of Mike's videos then went out and tried to put some of the things I’d learnt into practise. I also looked at other photographers out there on the internet but found that every time I did this Mike reappeared, he explained everything in a way I could understand, It was simple and to the point. I could then start seeing my photography improve so I joined a photography club for disabled photographers in Yate, Bristol. I also started to play with Lightroom and Photoshop.

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This really started to make my mouth water, you coud play around with a photo, change things, take things out of the shot, add things, endless possibilities. There was suddenly a whole lot more to learn than I thought but it was (and still is) a lot of fun. 

The photo above was one I edited in Photoshop; I took two photos and blended them into one then turned it into B&W to add more drama. I still needed more work but was having even more fun trying to get them right.

It was at this time I took the next step and had a 121 training day with Mike. The day was so much fun, Mike made me feel as though we’d been friends for a long time whereas in fact it was the first time we'd met. Mike spent time looking at old photos I’d taken, some that I felt were bad and some that I felt were good. After about an hour and with some input from me as to what I wanted to learn we went out and started to shoot. Below is one of the shots I came up with.

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To be honest my photography journey has only really just begun and I have such a long way to go, however with the help of online trainers like Mike Browne I feel I now have a great starting point with a solid foundation to improve. Moving forward I feel I've improved no end thanks to Mike.

My favourite photo from my 121 with Mike is this one.

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In the photo above I just love the colours and the way the bird is flying through the sun.

Thanks so much Mike for helping me on my journey.