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.