Joao Maia, a photographer with visual impairment, recently took a series of photos of the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.

Maia, age 41 and a former postman from Sao Paolo, Brazil, lost his sight when he was 28 due to uveitis, an inflammation of the middle layer of the eye. Maia can see shapes and colors close up and describes his vision as “a huge water color painting.”

While learning Braille and to use a cane, Maia discovered a passion for photography.

“I think photography gives me the opportunity to tell people I am visually impaired, that I exist, that I am here. I am registering what I see, in my way: out of focus [and] blurry. But, the way I see it, photography gives shape to my view,” Maia said.

Maia began taking photos with a traditional camera, but now uses a smartphone for better focusing.

Maia relies on able-sighted people around him to describe what an athlete looks like and is wearing. From there, he looks for a color contrast and begins to take photos. Later, Maia gets help editing and posting the photos onto his Instagram account.

At times, Maia struggles with the process of photography but does not doubt his capabilities.

“You don’t need to see to take photographs. My eyes are in my heart,” Maia said.

Maia is the first photographer with visual impairment to cover the Paralympic Games.

Jowelle M. is a college student interested in sociology, political science, and Spanish. Aside from academics, Jowelle enjoys blogging, reading, music, and spending time with family. She is happiest when she is working with others to improve the community.