When people talk about photographers, they often say that these creators "have an eye for it."
Photographers are often celebrated for allowing those of us on the outside the chance to observe everything from a new vantage point. It's always a privilege to see through an artist's eyes.
And one photographer named Joao Maia is making waves with his stunning shots of Paralympians in Rio de Janeiro. Instead of allowing us to see what he sees, however, his work takes us on a journey seen through his mind's eye.
After developing uveitis, which causes inflammation, Maia was strapped with severe visual impairments.
At this point, he can really only see colors and shapes. "My life is a huge watercolor painting," he explained in a recent interview.
To capture these stunning shots, he uses his artistic intuition.
The 41-year-old man from Sao Paulo once worked as a postman. It wasn't until the condition robbed him of his job that he developed an interest in photography.
By taking photos and sharing them online, he allows himself to feel seen and heard. He steps out into the world, captures its beauty, and extends a bit of himself to anyone who underestimates his abilities.
"I think photography gives me the opportunity to tell people I am visually impaired, that I exist, that I am here," Maia explained to World is One News.
Although he cannot see, his perception of the Paralympic Games is not empty or hollow. Instead of seeing crisp, clear lines, he experiences each event by letting the sounds of roaring crowds course through him.
"It makes you tremble," he said. "You feel the vibrations of people shouting or banging their feet against the stands."
Using nothing but an iPhone and his instincts, Maia turns fleeting moments into permanent snapshots of the world's most dedicated athletes.
Like his subjects, the photographer overcomes obstacles each and every day to put what he loves out into the world.
When describing the experience, he said that he was "floating on emotion."
“It’s not just action I want to capture, but the intimacy.”
To follow Joao Maia on his many adventures, be sure to check him out on Instagram.