Photography

Inside with Steele Douglas

People’s environments really say a lot about them. In order to create art for ourselves we have to be in the perfect environment. Homes are our safe space where we spend most of our time collecting ourselves.

My friend Steele Douglas is a local musician based in Denver, Colorado. I was invited into his home to capture photos of him. We met back in 2016 thanks to Keats Collective, a record label. It had been sometime since Steele and I hung out mainly because I moved to Chicago. 

Steele and his girlfriend Lacey share a space that emanates their relationship. There is natural sunlight flooding the rooms, there are books everywhere ranging from music journals, art and the classics. There is a cute couch that doubles as the home to their cat. The couch sat across from Steele’s work space where I could pleasantly watch Everything Is Terrible! (Which is one of my favorite films cause it’s a bunch of different wild films mashed into 12 hours of “wtf did I just watch.”) above all his instruments and synths. On the walls were art pieces made by Lacey and other famous people. The space really felt comfortable and inviting which makes sense because this is the home to two amazing people in my life. 

I was excited to learn about the different equipment he used to create. Steele started showing me how he makes music, explaining to me some of his methods and showing me his guitars. We both laughed about making a summer disco song and he started making a beat to one. It brought me a lot of happiness to see a friend sharing their art with me.

Below are a bunch of photos from this day together and I want you all to remember that you can make your space whatever you want it to be as long as you are creating for yourself and doing what you love. 

Havana, Cuba (2018)

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I have always wanted to go to Cuba. I think what really peaked my interest in wanting to travel there was the movie Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. The first time I watched that movie I was around the age of 17! I’ve held onto the want for so long. It is cliche to let a movie push interest in travel but that film bumped Cuba to the top of my list. Specifically Havana, as that is where the movie primarily was filmed.

I talked about wanting to visit Cuba with my mom and she told me how that has been a place that she has wanted to experience as well. We looked into traveling there. We found a fun option to go on a cruise through Royal Caribbean and next thing you know that is where we ended up!

I was really into the culture in Havana. The art, music and food. I love how the people seem to be holding onto the culture dearly as a lot of these things have not been Westernized and that’s important to realize when traveling. You are organically a part of their lifestyle when you visit a place. Everyday there was something new and eye opening that we got to see. Creative environments, pure joy, bright colors and a lot of sun!

There are a bunch of photos that I took on the trip that I wanted to share and I hope that after seeing these images your interest will peak as well.

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An Eye for an Eye

sanjanaelina

Not hiding who you are matters the most being a creative. What you do and why you do it defines who you are. I am a disabled artist whose primary focus is photography. I don't hide my disability, it just is something that never really comes up in conversation.  A lot of people question the word disabled when they see me because when you look at me, you can’t see my disability.
 

I have Retinopathy of prematurity in my left eye. ROP is a blinding eye disorder that affects premature babies. I was diagnosed with this when I was 2 years old. Being blind in one eye is all that I know. Growing up I had to adapt to this and 24 years later I still am adapting to life with one eye. I often walk into things and usually scream “hey!! Who put that there?” to save myself from embarrassment but also to make myself laugh cause if I can’t laugh at myself I’m truly not being myself. I also find myself working twice as hard to experience my surroundings.   

lookimblind

Being blind in one eye is an interesting and completely underrated statement. When people ask me what it’s like to be blind in one eye I usually have them cover their left eye with their hand and walk around for a minute (I hope you try this, just to get a gist of what my life is like everyday).

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"I NEVER SEE A FULL PICTURE"

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I never see a full picture. I only see half of what is around me or I see what is directly in front of me. This can be frustrating but I found an outlet that has allowed me to live life like I have two eyes; Photography. Photography gives me a full picture. When I take a photo I capture the environment and details that I can’t usually see. Photography for me is my second eye that I don’t have. I photograph everyone and everything that surrounds me and I've gotten my career as an artist to places I didn't think were ever possible for me.

 A lot of times people with disabilities are mislabeled by society. We usually become the disability we have, they tell a story for someone who doesn't actually know what it is like living life in our shoes. Those of us living life with a disability should be able to create our own narratives and this is what photography has given me the ability to do.   "Artist who has a disability" isn't something I want to be known for not because it doesn't matter, It 100% does. But I won't let this ever define who I am. Being half blind has given me mad amounts of courage and passion to continue seeing the world and people that I photograph in a different way.