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Relatively Speaking: Vizz Creative's Brian and Sohaila McKee

By Kerry McKittrick

Published 02/09/2015

In the frame: Brian and Sohaila McKee
In the frame: Brian and Sohaila McKee
Sohaila McKee
Brian McKee
A picture taken by Sohaila featuring a piece by jewellery desinger Elin Johnston

Husband and wife team Brian and Sohaila McKee live near Ballynahinch and run agency Vizz Creative which offers both graphic design and photography services. They were both accredited photographers for the recent Craft NI event.

Name: Sohaila McKee

Age: 50s

Occupation: Photographer and graphic designer

Relationship to Brian: Wife

Originally I came to the UK from Iran to study English when I was 17. I came for the summer but ended up staying and doing a degree in product design at Leeds University. I moved to London afterwards to do a postgraduate diploma in the design of equipment for people with disabilities. The course was closely connected to a charity called Demand, which I worked for after my studies - that's where I met Brian.

He had done the same course a few years previously, and was already working there. That was in 1984.

From the beginning we realised we had a great working - and then personal - relationship. We just seemed to click. There wasn't any real concern about dating someone at work, because we got on so well.

We both really enjoy outdoor life, so we are always canoeing or rock climbing. We got married in 1989.

It wasn't difficult for us to make the decision to move back to Northern Ireland. While I love London, I don't like the traffic and the crowds.

One day, I was squashed on to a tube train on the Northern Line and I decided I'd had enough. It was a simple decision to come here as we wanted to be close to one of our families, and there is a lot more freedom for women here than there is in Iran.

I was lucky enough to get a job in an advertising company here, working as a graphic designer, and Brian followed me over when he finished his contract in London.

We're both photographers now - it is something we both love, and Brian even had his own darkroom when he was younger.

We decided to go and get some qualifications at college - to add another string to our collective bow - and got completely hooked in the process. We've now started our own creative agency, which can supply both graphic design and photography services. I specialise in food and product photography.

Brian and I have now been living and working together for more than 30 years. It's still like it was when we first met and clicked.

Whatever we do together we seem to be able to understand what the other wants and needs in life. For years we've been working together, living together and relaxing together - and it's really worked for us.

Name: Brian McKee

Age: 64

Occupation: Photographer and furniture designer

Relationship to Sohaila: Husband

I left my home in Donaghadee in 1973 to move to Oxfordshire, then London where I lived for 18 years. While in London I was working as a designer and project manager for Demand when a very attractive young designer caught my eye early on.

We didn't work together for very long before realising we had lots of common interests outside work. We started walking on the South Downs, running together and playing squash. It was hard to ignore the attraction between the two of us, so we decided to give it a go.

I had been in London for the best part of 10 years and although I enjoyed it, I eventually wanted to go home.

My family were mostly here, even though people were concerned about us coming back in the middle of the Troubles.

The reality was that most people just got on with their lives.

We have a much better quality of life over here. Since my twenties, I wanted to have a furniture workshop in the country and I've had that for a few years now.

I had been a photographer off and on for years, so it wasn't a stretch five years ago when we decided to study photography together. It's been a lot of fun and we have different skills.

Sohaila provides most of the creative input and I tend to take over the technical side - whether a shot needs a flash or a special lighting, for example.

Craft NI is another thing we have been able to do together. We both have creative skills and come from a craft background, so teaching and learning at this type of event is great.

For me, it started when we went back to college as one of my projects was photographing people as they did crafts. It's amazing we're still living and working together - sometimes we even talk to each other."

To learn more about craft-related partnerships visit www.craftni.org

Crafting a life together

  • Sohaila is originally from Iran and Brian comes from Northern Ireland. They now live in Ballynahinch
  • They are commercial photographers, specialising in food, architecture and product images
  • As well as their photography and graphic design business, Sohaila and Brian have recently taken part in Craft NI
  • You can see Sohaila and Brian’s blog and examples of their work on their website www.viz.biz

Belfast Telegraph

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