RAISing the Bar
by Mark Davis
There is no doubt that Rais Hasan is a high flyer. From a glittering career as a Senior Youth Manager at Bradford Council to being an early pioneer of the West Yorkshire branch of the Princes Trust and later a National Advisor to the charity, Rais is no stranger to being top of his game. So on paper it’s not surprising that he is now the President of the Bradford Photographic Society – but if it hadn’t been for a tragedy in 2005, Rais may never have even picked a camera up.
In 2005, Rais’ world was turned upside down. After going to bed and waking up in hospital, Rais was told he had a cancerous brain tumour in the lower left lobe of his brain – the most difficult to get at. With his chance of survival only 20% and with a high probability of disability post-surgery, Rais’ world changed overnight.
Thankfully Rais survived his surgery but he was left housebound for over one and a half years as he tried to recover. It was then that his family clubbed together and bought him his first DSLR camera. Rais’ photography career started from within his house, taking photos of objects around his home and then asking his children what they thought the picture was, but photography became far more than a boredom buster.
“Every person has inner strength. It’s about mind over matter. You can survive a lot and do a lot of things”
“At the same time it developed my communication skills. It was a major help. It helped to focus my attention. I had boggled vision and it made my eyes point forward and reduced double vision. The camera came by accident into my recovery period but gradually it helped.”
After a couple of years taking photos around his house, Rais enrolled for a photography course at Shipley College – his classmates however, had no idea what he’d been through.
“I never mentioned my brain tumour until after I’d passed with high marks.”
His classmates couldn’t believe his achievements but Rais continued to move onwards and upwards. He joined the Bradford Photographic Society. Unable to drive due to his illness, his wife and other members would drop him off and pick him up – and it was clear that Rais was talented when in his first year he won a very prestigious award.
“I won Photographer of the Year in my first year. No one else has ever done that.”
Rais rose through the ranks quickly and now six years after joining he is the President, a position he has held for over a year. He admits to recruiting people when he’s out and about taking photographs.
“It’s a very friendly group and what you can learn is outstanding. Everyone helps each other out.”
However, that isn’t the only society he is part of. Rais is also a member of the Disability Photography Society which was established in 1968 and aims to make photography accessible to those with disabilities. He recently managed to get his work featured in their annual exhibition. Rais’ print of Total Warrior went on to win both the national prize and the overall exhibition.
Photography however is more than just winning competitions to Rais. Although he found it accidently and in the worst possible circumstances, Rais has fallen in love with the art and credits it as being a crucial part of both of his recovery and his outlook on life.
“It gives you another vision, another view of life and inspiration comes from that. I inspire many other people to believe in their inner strength. Every person has inner strength. It’s about mind over matter. You can survive a lot and do a lot of things.”