Paralympic Games
7-18 September

The blind photographer who covered the Paralympics

“I can see the world through the camera lenses,” says 41-year-old Joao Maia da Silva. 29 Sep 2016 By IPC

An inflammation of the eye called uveitis left Joao Maia da Silva almost completely blind at 28-years-old, but could not stop him from becoming a photographer and fulfilling his dream of covering the Paralympic Games.

In 2003, the Brazilian took part in a photography course for visually impaired people. That started a career that reached its peak earlier this September when he covered Rio 2016 and became internationally known for his striking talent.

“I might have lost the physical vision but acquired the emotion and the sensitivity, both also indispensables to be a photographer,” he said.

“I can see the world through the camera lenses and want to tell stories through photography.”

Da Silva could be seen at every venue with photographer Ricardo Rojas, who describes to him the environment he will be shooting in.

“Once I know well how the conditions are, I appeal to all my five senses, especially hearing, to start taking photos,” he explained.

“I especially like football 5-a-side because people have to remain in silence and I can follow the ball´s and players´ sounds.”

The 41-year-old was an athlete, competing in javelin and shot put in regional events, where he used to take the camera to start shooting once his events were over.

“I started with sports and photography more or less at the same time. And I had the chance to take photos at the same events I used to take part in. So I was both an athlete and a photographer,” he said.

The Rio 2016 Paralympic Games was the biggest event he has ever shot, but the Brazilian is far from feeling satisfied and seeks to keep learning and attending Para sport competitions.

“I was so happy in Rio, learning from some of the world´s best photographers. There are so many excellent professionals,” he said.

“You should never say ´I know´ because there is always something new to discover and photography is about constant learning.

“I actually believe photography is about light, knowledge and opportunity. Light because it guides me, knowledge because you need to learn something new every day and opportunity like the one I had to cover the world´s biggest Para sport event.”