My Story... 

Hello! First of all, Thank You for visiting my website, I truly hope you like it because well.. I did it for you.

My name is John Braz. Like my older sister I was born in Australia and raised in Portugal. My parents immigrated to Australia and they lived here 20 years before returning to Portugal.

When someone asks me how long I have been involved with the industry, the answer is from birth! My dad is a photographer and my mum is a photo-lab-technician. When they returned to Portugal in 1992 they open their first photo store, named FOTO AUSTRÁLIA.

After school I would go to the store because, well.. didn’t had any other place to go and the store was open from 9h AM to 8h PM on weekdays, and on weekends from 5h-6h AM until the last photographer returned from the service (Weddings/Christenings/etc.). So as you can imagine I spent a lot of hours in the store, and has I grew up, I started to do these small tasks like: cut the films, attending the customers, etc…

When I was around 12 years old I got an upgrade in my role. I would not only receive the client or deliver their photos I also started to learn how to take Passport (ID) photos. On weekends I started to be my dad assistant, and sometimes 2nd shooter.

Bit by bit I started to get authorisation to handle the BIG machines! I fell in love with the Panasonic Super VHS recorder. Because I was tall and had a steady hand and also I was/am a movie fanatic, I started to reproduce these angle shot that I saw in movies and eventually by the age of 14, I filmed my first solo wedding (as the only camera-man). The first time I filmed alone was a small christening, I’m not saying those weren’t important but they usually only had like 50 guests, and the weddings at the time had around 300+! So I was aiming for the big leagues!

At 15 I started to focus solely on photography, so my dad bought me a Nikon F100 and taught me the trade. I became a regular‘second’ photographer for wedding and a first-shooter for other events (Christenings, Galas, etc.).

A little point of situation about Foto Australia: first store in 1992 (Massamá); second store 1997 (Sāo Marcos); third store 2001 (Ericeira) and fourth store 2003 (Linda-a-Velha). As you can imagine my parents worked long hours everyday and the stores were quite famous. My parents were making more than 200 weddings a year, obviously my dad would always shoot the biggest one and would hire other photographers to do the others. I believe Foto Australia record was 14 weddings in one weekend.

As I mentioned before, I have a sister that is three years older than me and her path was basically the same as mine for the exception she always prefered photography over video. So when I was 15, she was 18 years had a car and was a first photographer in weddings and winning a piece of the action! Needless to say that although I was getting paid it wasn’t nearly the same amount as the other photographers/camera-man. The photographers were getting 30% of the photo sales at the day of the event. 15 years old me was getting 50 euros regardless the volume of the sales.

The Digital Camera Revolution in 2001 destroyed 75% of the photo stores businesses in Portugal  and then came the 2008 economic crisis. That bankrupt KODAK! The digital revolution and economic crises hit us pretty hard. My parents closed the store number 4, the one in Linda-a-Velha.

Between 2006-2008 the wedding business already had drop significantly and by 2009 we were doing approximately 60 events a year. Then my parents separated and the whole business went south. My dad kept Foto Australia 1 (Massamá), my mum Foto Australia 3 (Ericeira) and me and sister kept Foto Australia 2 (Sao Marcos).

With the downfall of the industry I changed my path and went for a Bachelor degree in Tourism. My sister decided to move to Australia in 2011 and I was juggling between the university and the store. The economic crisis was at its peak, so in 2012 one year and a few months after I took over, I stepped down from the store.

On February 2014 I came to Australia and enrolled at Monash University for the Master of Tourism degree.
So this is where I am now! Returning to the photography industry and trying to rebuild my portfolio to take a shot in the Australian market.

I hope my life story wasn’t too boring to read, cause definitely it doesn’t feel boring living it!

John Braz

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