Journey Story: Bronwen Key

Welcome to the Lensbaby Journey Story series. We’ve asked photographers to write about their journey with photography and with Lensbaby, in any way they want to approach it. Each piece comes directly from an individual photographer in their own words, accompanied by their photos. Our hope is that these journey stories will resonate with you, inspire you, and push you forward on your own path.

What is your Lensbaby journey story, Bronwen?
Back in 2016, I wrote to Lensbaby to say thank you, not just creating such wonderful products that inspire creativity but also for offering a level of service and follow-up communication to match. I told them a little about my background, and they asked me to share my Lensbaby Journey Story.

I spent most of my teenage years right through to my 30’s addicted to taking photos. I have hundreds of them in boxes everywhere. Whenever possible, I had a camera by my side. In 1999, I moved from the UK to New Zealand, and in 2006 my husband bought me my first DSLR. Living in a country like New Zealand coupled with ownership of a DSLR created a longing to be able to take images of scenery that rivaled all the work by the wonderful photographers in the country. Outside of work hours, I practiced non-stop, driving to various ‘out of the way’ places, chasing that ultimate shot. I loved charging around the countryside, experimenting at all hours.

Then, suddenly, in my late 30’s I developed epilepsy, and my world fell apart. I had to leave my job, and my ability to drive vanished. I became a medical experiment, trying various different medications with horrendous side effects that included severe levels of anxiety. Getting through the night without panic attacks was a challenge, and leaving the house for a walk created a panic attack every time. The ‘high’ I used to get from photography vanished when my independence to drive was taken away. Added to this, I desperately needed to earn a living. I was limited to walking around the neighborhood trying to distract myself with one of my macro prime lenses. I lost interest in photography and just battled through the days trying to earn some money selling various work. I did this to keep me going, but I started to lose interest as it became a job rather than a passion.

Then, one day, I saw something about Lensbaby on the internet. Having lost my passion and excitement, I decided (on dwindling funds), to invest in a Lensbaby Velvet 56. Boy oh boy, did things change! Wow! My creativity returned and my enthusiasm to try new styles and teach myself new ways of looking at things went through the roof. I was still limited to walking everywhere– believe me, public transport in NZ is very limited) — but suddenly I saw everything in a different light and a different way. Every evening at about 4.30 pm I would set out with my camera, walking around the neighborhood until my husband would pick me up on his way home.

I started to win international awards for my botanical work including four awards from the International Garden Photographer of the Year, which blew me away. What the Lensbaby Velvet 56 did was it stirred my creativity so much that it distracted me from the anxiety that was haunting me. It got me out and about regardless of the turmoil my mind was in, which in turn built my confidence to start the healing process.

Recently, I’ve seen lots of new opportunities open up. The house is consistently littered with flowers and various bits of garden paraphernalia that I have been given when leaving friends’ houses as they all know what I am like now. I still get weeks of seizures every month, but now I don’t mind traveling for hours on public transport to get to a location where I can get new imagery with my lens. Any chance I get, I can be seen wandering around the neighborhood with my camera swinging around my neck and a big grin on my face. So, in essence, it isn’t just a lens, it’s been a life changer for me. Thank you!

To learn more, check out Bronwen’s website and Instagram.

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