International Photojournalist Colin E. Braley Shares his Experience Behind the Lens … From Truman High School to Montserrat and Many Places in Between
By Robin Atkins, Publisher
It’s rather exciting to have the opportunity to interview and write about a former classmate. I’ve known Colin since at least the 7th grade. He always had a natural curiosity about the world around him … sometimes not saying much, but simply observing.
I suppose that this quality is what has led him to be a mega-talented photographer and photojournalist. We both were fortunate to be surrounded by great educators and talented peers.
Throughout his career, Colin has remained grounded in his Midwestern roots. He has had some exciting experiences but remains content to share through photography rather than take the spotlight himself.
We graduated from Truman High School in Independence, Missouri in 1981 … 40 years ago. I had an especially good time catching up with Colin and learning more about his career!
Robin: When did you get started in photography?
Colin: I became interested in photography when I was in 7th or 8th grade. In my senior year of high school, I was on both the student newspaper and yearbook staff where I enjoyed shooting sports, and documenting the daily lives of teens doing what teens do.
1980 was topped off by presidential campaign visits to the Kansas City area by Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. Carter had a rally in Truman’s gymnasium and Reagan followed up with a visit. As part of the coverage for the school’s publications, I was given credentials to cover both. The Reagan campaign even provided a credential to be in the motorcade to his event.
Having access like that to the president and to the soon-to-be POTUS left an indelible impression on me. Certainly not a teen doing what teens do situation.
Robin: What type of photography is your favorite?
Colin: I don’t think I have a favorite photo genre. I do however have favorite moments. Just like a hitter connecting for a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. Nothing is better than capturing that perfect moment in time. A perfectly composed image that conveys truth, an emotion, natural/artistic beauty or provides inspiration.
There are some forms of photography that require little effort or technical ability so you could say there are a few that are low on the list. I prefer styles that present a challenge. Moments where you have to anticipate what’s going to happen. Correctly predicting a visual moment comes with both experience and researching who or what you are photographing.
Robin: What is one of your most exciting assignments?
Colin: Events that I have covered that are of historical significance, have had a consequential impact on people’s lives and athletes that have reached the pinnacle of their respective sports are the assignments that are the most memorable to me.
Here are some events he has covered that stand out:
*1994, Thousands of Cubans on makeshift rafts escaping Cuba in the Florida Straits.
Being rescued by the US Coast Guard.
*1994-1996, Thousands of Cuban migrants detained in Guantanamo Bay Cuba.
*1995-1997, Civil unrest, UN involvement in Haiti.
*1995-98, the Colombian drug war and Smuggling operations in the Caribbean.
*1996, ValuJet Flight 592 crash in the Florida Everglades
*1997, The town of Plymouth destroyed, and dozens killed by an eruption and dome collapse of the Soufriere Hills volcano on the island of Montserrat.
*1997, Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace murder, Miami Beach.
*2000, International custody battle of 6-year-old Cuban rafter Elian Gonzales
*2000, Florida presidential election recount.
*2001, O.J. Simpson road rage trial, Miami.
Other news events that Colin has covered in his career:
4 Major hurricanes, Florida, Louisiana, Bahamas, Turks, and Caicos.
4 Presidential Debates
5 Presidential campaigns and elections.
NFL Playoffs- 15
Super Bowls- 10
MLB Playoffs- 12
World Series- 9
NBA Playoffs- 6
NBA Finals- 3
US Open, Golf- 3
The Masters, Golf- 6
NCAA Final Four- 5
World Cup Soccer- 2
NHL Stanley Cups- 3
Colin says that as a Kansas City area native, covering the Kansas City Royals winning the 1985 and 2015 World Series and the Kansas City Chiefs winning the AFC Championship at home will always be special to him.
Countries that Colin has traveled to on assignment:
Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Panama, Colombia, Guatemala, El Salvador, Jamaica, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, Antigua, Australia, and Montserrat.
Organizations that he has worked for include:
United Press International, Kansas City, New Orleans- News and Sports Coverage, Kansas Missouri, Louisana
Reuters News Pictures (Thompson/Reuters) Miami- Domestic and International News, Sports, South Florida, Puerto Rico, Caribbean.
Standard-Examiner, Utah, Director of Photography/Multimedia/Graphics
Currently, Colin is involved in the following:
Owner, Colin Eric Braley Photography, Kansas City- Commercial Photography, Corporate/Small Business Events, Marketing. Nature and Wildlife Photography.
Contract Photographer, Associated Press, College, and Professional Sports, Missouri, and Kansas
Robin: How far have you traveled for an assignment?
Colin: Australia- 2000 Summer Olympics
Robin: What do you like most about Kansas City?
Colin: I have come full circle. In 2012, after 22 years, my wife and I returned to Kansas City to be closer to our aging family. Growing up here grounded me. My Midwestern ethics and values have always played a big part in my 38 years as a professional photographer. Returning to KC made me appreciate those values even more. Family and hard work are a staple of life here.
On a lighter note… I just love the food here. I know people are tired of hearing about the BBQ, but it truly is heaven … smoked and slathered in spicy goodness. Also, Florida and Utah (surprisingly) wouldn’t know a good steak if their lives depended on it. Continuing with the food theme … Although I have been back here for a few years now, to this day I am still amazed by the thousands of crazed (in a good way) tailgaters at Arrowhead. KC is one of the greatest sports locations in the country.
You can view more of Colin’s work here: www.braleyphotography.com.
You can also contact Colin for professional photography for your next special event here: www.braleyphotography.com/contact or call him direct at 816-799-4520.
If you happen to be looking for amazing decorative wall art for your home or office … look no further! The photos below are just a few examples.
Images subject to copyright.