It’s easy to take for granted the pleasures of a simple task, until one day you suddenly struggle to make your morning cup of coffee or can’t remember how to check your email. This was (and sometimes still is) reality for Eddie Hennessy. Eddie suffered a life-changing stroke in August 2008.
The former “All-Ireland” Judo fighter once considered himself an athlete above all else. With eyes on the Olympics, Eddie spent his young adulthood competing across Europe before settling in Cork, Ireland. He realized his health had begun to deteriorate on the mat.
“The more I trained, the less fit I got. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what,” Eddie said.
After years of doctors appointments, a misdiagnosis, treatments and struggles, Eddie suffered a stroke that put him in the hospital for two months. He stopped walking for six months and lost the ability to speak for two years. But according to Eddie, he wouldn’t give it back for anything because it gave him new-found confidence.
“When I gradually improved with my recovery, it built confidence that I never had before. If I can get over a major stroke like this, [I got thinking] what else could I do,” Eddie continued.
On his road to recovery, Eddie discovered CreativeLive photography classes. Bedridden, unable to read, write or speak, Eddie listened, observed and educated himself and developed what was a hobby into a full-fledged business.
“CreativeLive taught me about the camera first, then I started to learn about wedding photography,” said Eddie.
He learned from John Greengo’s classes the fundamentals; Joe Buissink’s Wedding Photography: how to capture couple’s meaningful moments; Robert Evans’ Wedding Day Workflow: how to manage his time and clients while developing a unique style. Above all else, CreativeLive classes gave him the confidence to go out and shoot.
Armed with the skills and the swagger, Eddie got behind the lens and realized he didn’t need to speak with words to send a message. His photographs could do that for him. So with no professional experience Eddie set out on his journey to becoming a professional photographer.
Like most photographers fresh on the scene, he started shooting for free, before snagging jobs as a second shooter. But unlike most, Eddie realized his stroke had helped him create a unique perspective.
“Two neuroscientists told me that I wouldn’t speak more than three words for the rest of my life,” Eddie said.
His inability to speak for two years, however, made him more aware of visual cues like body language, expressions and other small details, a perspective that elevates his shots.
Determined to prove his doctors wrong, Eddie practiced one word at a time, went to speech therapy and starting speaking shaky but full sentences. Self-conscious of his stutter, Eddie worried clients wouldn’t hire him because of how he spoke. But he didn’t let that stop him.
Eddie landed his first gig as a lead photographer in 2013. From recommendations (and help from his social media marketing) in 2014, he snagged ten more. The next year he booked twenty gigs. And in 2016, Eddie shot fifty weddings while fully booking himself for wedding season 2017.
Eddie’s story, like so many CreativeLive students, is a story of perseverance, courage, and discovery. Unwilling to let his stroke define his life, Eddie Hennessy’s illness and desire to learn, lead him to a new passion, a new outlook, and a successful business.
“It feels like it is a dream to discover this new passion that I have been able to turn into a business.”
Eddie continues, “sometimes, I feel kind of guilty, taking money from people for what I loved doing. It doesn’t feel like a job, so it’s been a whole new learning curve, loving your job and realizing you’re wanted.”