Joao Maia

Week 153 (10 - 16 September 2016)

During the Olympic and Paralympic Games, photography becomes a sport of its own. Photographers wait eagerly on the sidelines, their lenses primed, to take part in a competition to preserve memories, capture historic moments and find an image that will last a lifetime.

The man whose photographs have been causing a stir at this year's Paralympic Games is Joao Maia, a visually impaired Brazilian photographer from Sao Paulo. While his fellow sports photographers spend time compulsively looking for the perfect shot, Maia is only able to see general colours and outlines after an infection 13 years ago left him without his sight.

But this hasn't stopped the 41-year-old from beautifully capturing the journeys of Paralympic athletes. Having honed his skills during warm-up events over the past year, Maia has been using his smartphone to capture the close-up drama and emotion of Rio 2016. He then shares his creations with the world on Instagram, inspiring us all to push the realms of possibility.

"When I am close enough I feel the runners' heartbeats, their steps, then I'm ready to take the picture," Maia said. "Photography is about sensitivity. I think it's marvellous to be able to show how I perceive the world, how I see it, sense it.

"You don't need to see to take photographs. My eyes are in my heart."

Maia's unique photographs tell stories of perseverance that are made all the more poignant by his own determination.

The 5,647 followers on his Instagram account @joaomaiafotografo prove that this fresh perspective is a hit with sports fans around the world and show that Paralympians aren't the only source of inspiration in Rio this September.

Photo: Instagram