Meet Jon M, blind photographer
This week, I have a guest blogger (my first one ever, so be kind). Meet Jon. He reached out to me after learning about me on “MasterChef.”. Jon is a photographer. Read on to find out what makes Jon’s story so intriguing.
Hi, I’m Jon. Like many, I have been inspired by Christine to achieve my Dreams.
I have 2 things in common with Christine. First, I am a creative person; I couldn’t cook to save my life, but I can paint, draw, and take great photos. Second, I have temporary blindness—I’m currently legally blind in my left eye from a secondary Cataract, and am fighting permanent blindness from Glaucoma.
My story began when I was just 19 months old and was Diagnosed as one of the youngest cases of Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). This was well treated during my youth and went into remission. Meanwhile, I was showing a lot of promise as an artist; my grandmother and father both taught me how to paint and draw. Growing up, I was always known as the artist.
In junior High, the JRA struck hard and fast, almost crippling me. I was quickly treated before it could cause permanent damage. With medicine like Celebrex, and Enbrel, I was able to suppress it and live a normal life.
At 16, I noticed some blurriness in my right eye. It turned out to be Uveitis (arthritis/inflammation in the eye caused by my JRA). the treatment of this disease is what ended up causing my Cataracts and Glaucoma a few years later. During this time, I had honed my craft and was able to draw pictures with such detail that people often mistook them for photos. I won competitions and was accepted as a Sophomore in High School to a prestigious Art School in Brooklyn.
But I decided to go to college in Idaho for business. After just a semester, I was pulled out because I had full-blown Glaucoma in my right eye and had lost 75% of my optic nerves life. I spent the next few years in surgery and recovery. That was when I reevaluated my life and realized there are no guarantees for tomorrow. I then spent my early 20s soaking up life: traveling, skiing, hiking, spending time with my friends at their colleges—getting the most out of life that I possibly could. This was hands down one of the 2 best decisions I have made. I still live my life with this mindset and love it.
Three years ago, I made the other best decision of my life: I started my photography business. I jumped in head first, bought a professional camera and lens setup, and immediately started building my portfolio. It was a few years before I learned how to be a professional in the industry, all the while losing vision in my right eye to the point where I couldn’t see any definition through my viewfinder. I would use my left eye to see the shot and try to frame the composition with my right eye. Amazingly I did some great work during that time. I was able to get the blurriness cleared up, thanks to my great doctors and new technologies.
I am now becoming one of the best photographers in the area, and I’m working towards national recognition. God gave me challenges and shortcomings, but two things He gave me in abundance are Aspiration and Drive. I spend every day studying and teaching myself how to become better. I want to be recognized as one of the best photographers in the world, and won’t settle until that happens. Watching Christine take on a challenge that seemed insurmountable, and not only do well, but excel and ultimately win was all the affirmation and inspiration I could ever ask for. It just goes to show that your limits only reside in your mind. Knowing this has amplified my determination and growth. I have seen a great deal of personal and professional success since being inspired by her on “MasterChef.” Knowing that I am capable of becoming the best has torn down the walls that were once limiting me. I just turned 30 a few weeks ago and am looking forward to my future.
Thanks, Jon, for sharing your story. And you all thought I was nuts for being a Blind Cook, huh? Check out Jon’s work at Jon M Photography, and show him some blind love.