Kieran Stephens

​​​​Kieran Stephens has found his niche behind a camera.

Kieran, aged 16, is a talented photographer who has only recently discovered his talent for capturing images of people and places.

He photographs events at youth organisation Zeal, and in a reflection of the trust and faith placed in him, he uses much of Zeal's gear to do the jobs.

Kieran feels he's found his place in life and the community, after a childhood which included struggles and challenges to overcome.

His mother, Teree, was just 18 he was born, and his father wasn't part of his childhood.

"I had a rough upbringing, and I felt like I never really had something to put myself into, felt I never had any skills or talents," he says.

School was also difficult – he didn't fit in with any particularly social grouping, wasn't sporty or athletic, and academically he struggled. It culminated with him dropping out of school at the end of Year 11, meaning he didn't complete NCEA Level 1.

He was drifting along without any clear direction in life, and quietly admits self-esteem was an issue for him, too.

Through a church group he joined, he was pointed in the direction of Zeal – a move which he says has made a significant and positive influence in his life. (Zeal Waikato's Manage Lehi Duncan also features in the 2017 30 Under 30 series.)

It was at Zeal in 2015, as a 15-year-old, where he discovered photography as part of a role managing the hiring of the organisation's equipment.

"I never really had an interest in photography – I just started on the pathway at Zeal, and it went from there. I really enjoyed it, and found I had good skill at it," he says.

Kieran likes the social interaction photography relies on, and it's allowed him to come out of his shell.

He developed a Facebook page and website for his work, which developed into paid photography projects.

The first paid job was particularly memorable, he says – shooting a senior high school students ball event in 2015.

"I felt like I'd achieved, and felt needed – and coming from that background where I'd had not too much to celebrate, it was cool."

A chance to photograph musician Tiki Taane also gave him added impetus and motivation.

He's also branched out into videography stuff, and also found an interest in journalism, too.

The photography experience has also stimulated a return to education for Kieran: he's completed a Wintec Foundation Studies course (achieving Level 2 NCEA) and recently finished a Certificate in Media Arts.

He's also picked up some work with a local retail company, and Kieran says he "never thought I'd work in a place like that".

Kieran has sensible advice for other young Hamiltonians.

"Don't be scared to surround yourself with new people," he says. "When I first went to Zeal I never thought I would find a place where I could also call it my second home. Find a place where you feel comfortable, and don't be shy."​

Page reviewed: 13 Nov 2017 11:40am