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.



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