Keeping things in focus: Senior’s vision loss does not deter him from capturing mind, heart through photography

Lucy Raleigh

Focused. The picture. The mindset. Each has to be focused when it comes to photography if the desired outcome is to be achieved. Society sometimes attempts to dictate what individuals are capable of when they interpret a challenge as an impossible obstacle, but senior Steven Gonzalez proves that idea wrong. Though Steven faces difficulties because of vision loss he has continued to pursued his passion for photography with creative grace.

“I was born with vision loss,” senior Steven Gonzalez said. “I wish it could be better, but it’s something I deal with and sometimes I don’t even notice I have it. With photography, I just go for it, and if I can’t tell when things are focused, I just say ‘screw it’ and take the picture. If something is wrong with the picture, I try my best to do it again.”

For most people, corrective lenses get them close to 20/20 vision, but Steven still has difficulty seeing even with his glasses.

“Everything’s normal except that I can’t read from afar,” Steven said. “I can’t see people from far away and stuff like that. If I don’t have glasses on, everything’s blurry from afar and it’s hard to tell where everything thing is, but with glasses on I can make out a few things.”

Photography teacher John Burrows hasn’t seen Steven’s vision as something that limits him within the class, but rather as a way to set himself apart from others through his photographs.

“Steven overcomes his disability just by doing it,” Burrows said. “He doesn’t let anything get in his way and he sees colors and images in a beautiful way and that’s really awesome.”

Photography has not only served as a creative outlet for Steven, but also a way to challenge himself technically and socially.

“Photography has gotten me out of my comfort zone,” Steven said. “Because of it, I’ll get out more, talk to people more, and try to do different things.”

Steven isn’t the only one who has seen himself grow in his craft; Burrows has also noticed his improvements through the photography program.

“Steven has grown in confidence,” Burrows said. “He’s always been a good photographer, but his confidence has grown and that has pushed him to do more, and with that his desire to learn and do more grows.”

Though Steven’s interest and skill in photography started small, he began to grow into a successful photographer and artist.

“I started out in photography by playing around with the camera,” Steven said. “Then I started looking up techniques and I saw really cool stuff that people could create and thought ‘I can do that’. I started out doing photography for fun, then I started to do it artistically.”

Steven uses photography as both an avenue for creativity and enjoyment that is full of opportunities to be different in his work.

“I like creating something new that hasn’t been created before,” Steven said. “A lot of times I’ll make something, but then realize that somebody already did it so I’ll try to do it as differently as possible.”

Steven has been able to learn professional photography skills as well as life skills by never limiting himself based on circumstances.

“The photography program has given me a chance to do many different things,” Steven said. “It has allowed me to gain real-world experiences and use equipment that I can’t use at home, and the program has also helped me use photoshop and learn different skills to become a real photographer.”

Even though Steven’s skills and techniques have continued to grow, some of his early work will always hold a special place in his heart.

“My photo that I took from inside the van is probably my favorite,” Steven said. “It’s my favorite because it’s the first photo I took with a real, actual camera.”

Because of the experience Steven has gained from the photography program, Burrows has entrusted him with projects because of his reliability and creativity.

“Steven is a great kid and a great student,” Burrows said. “He’s hard-working and I know I can ask him to do any photoshoot and he’ll do it, even if it’s not his favorite thing to do. I have the confidence in him that when I send him out to do something, he’s going to go complete it and do a really good job.”

Burrows doesn’t view Steven’s vision loss as an obstacle for him to overcome, but instead as just a fact that Steven deals with as he continues to grow as a photographer. Steven knows he sometimes will have to redo shots, but because of his drive he will ultimately get what he wants.

“Steven is humble,” Burrows said. “He always wants to learn, he’s always trying to get better, so that and his confidence are a good combination.”