Car crash spurs Ronan to carve out new career

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A young Ballymena man who was involved in a serious accident has spoken of how his love for photography helped in the days following the crash - and led to a new career.

Ronan O’Dornan was left with several injuries following a serious car crash that left his beloved restored ’78 Opel Kadett destroyed.

Ronan, who had worked as an art teacher, had always been interested in photography from a young age.

Given his first camera by his mother when he was eight, from this moment, Ronan was always taking photographs - capturing people and experiences through a new perspective.

He was hooked but didn’t realise then how he could turn his hobby into a full-time career so he threw himself into teaching after graduating from university.

Photography may have taken a backseat during the day but Ronan continued to practice his craft at every opportunity, volunteering for various community initiatives and taking on paid photography work in his spare time between teaching.

“I was fortunate enough to have worked alongside an extremely talented professional photographer as an assistant throughout university,” Ronan said:

He added: “He had a raw, natural talent and taught me how to light, compose and capture still images while I was assisting him on shoots.

“He invested a lot of time in mentoring me and the interest in photography I had developed as a kid soon grew into a burning passion.”

Following his accident, Ronan used the time to reflect and plan how he could use the experience to become more appreciative of his life and was determined to make every day count.

He continued to take photographs as soon as he was physically capable and with photography helping him through his experience, he decided it was time to give everything to pursuing his passion.

Leaving behind a successful teaching career for good was a bold move but Ronan knew that the one thing he needed to rely on in order to succeed, would never let him down - himself.

“I was driven to stop at nothing until I’d achieved what I’d set out to do,” Ronan said.

Ronan launched Stillpoint in 2017, a creative imageworks dedicated to capturing quality commercial and documentary photography, and hasn’t looked back since.

With commissions from big brands that see Ronan travel all over the country to capture the stories of Ireland, the former art teacher is prioritising each day and fulfilling his life long dream.

Although he uses digital cameras for commissioned work, Ronan is a firm believer that the concept and content make the resulting image and loves seeing how the development in smartphone cameras has opened up the creative outlet to everyone.

“The evolution of mobile photography has profoundly changed our ability to document people, moment and experiences. Everyone now has the ability and the tools to tell amazing stories through photography,” Ronan said.

Ronan will be hosting a mobile photography masterclass at House Belfast on Thursday, June 21, in association with #BlackBushStories ambassador and acclaimed bartender Paul Rocks, who will offer a tasting session on some of Bushmills’ best loved whiskeys.

The ‘Black Bush and Photography’ interactive event will see Ronan teaching attendees how to take great photos on their smartphones with tips and tricks that can be applied straight away, and how to tell stories through images.

Bushmills Irish Whiskey has also collaborated with Ronan to launch an all-Ireland social media competition, whereby budding photographers are encouraged to find an Irish story that moves them and upload their photographs to social media using the hashtag #BlackBushStories

To register for ‘Black Bush and Photography’ and for more information on the photography competition visit