HUNTER Valley Grammar student Ayden Shepherd was 13 when he used his iPhone to photograph the Eiffel Tower from such an unusual angle that viewers mistook its rivets for a beach, chocolate, climbing wall and even turtles.
Just 18 months later, Ayden has received an invitation from Invisible Children – the organisation founded to bring awareness to the activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Central Africa and its leader, Joseph Kony – to attend a leadership summit at the University of California in August, saying his developing talent in photography could be used to help promote human rights.
‘‘I’m very lucky to be one of only 1400 people from around the world to attend,’’ he said. ‘‘I really want to share my views on human rights and justice and learn from other people’s experiences and views and hopefully be part of future change.’’
After returning from Europe, Ayden borrowed his father’s Nikon D90 and started photographing cityscapes, landscapes and waterscapes.
He held his first exhibition at Ivanhoe Wines in April last year, selling a photograph of his swimming pool for $250 and another 12 in six hours.
He regularly sells his work in handmade recycled wood frames from his website and at the Hamilton Clocktower Markets.
He has used the proceeds to buy his own Nikon D7000 camera, lenses, tripod and bag.
Ayden enrolled in a one-week basic photography course in Sydney last year before his family travelled to Canada and the US in October.
Master photographer Roy Andersen visited Ayden’s website and volunteered to take him to the Canadian Rockies to capture the stunning scenery.
‘‘I tried to see what other people normally wouldn’t see and look at things in an interesting way,’’ he said.
Ayden has since moved on to using film, macro photography and photographing instruments – he plays the saxophone and baritone saxophone – and recently enrolled in a course to learn about photographing people.
Ayden’s photograph of the Eiffel Tower has since received an Honourable Mention in the 2013 iPhone Photography Awards.