Ava Weinstein’s passion for life developed as quickly as a snapshot. As a legally blind photographer and digital artist, some may refer to her talents as a miracle, innate, or as a gift. But, to Weinstein, they come from a power that exists in us all.
“I believe if any person puts their mind to something—they can do it,” Weinstein says. Weinstein, a part-time resident of Palm Springs, believes any dream is possible because she was born with three different types of visual impairments: Albinism, to have little or no pigment in the eyes; Astigmatism, an irregular-shaped cornea; and Nystagmus, an involuntary rhythmic shaking or wobbling of the eyes.
What a normal sighted person would see clearly at 200 yards, Weinstein would have to be 20 yards to see. In her left eye, which she considers her “good eye,” she’s at the borderline of being legally blind. In the other eye, she is legally blind.
Despite her disability, Weinstein, 50, is now using her disadvantage to help encourage others. “I have moved to the next phase in my career,” she says. “I am now committed to helping people pursue their own dreams through motivational speaking.”
With a mother for a painter and a father for a photographer, Weinstein didn’t discover her own artistic talents until later in life. Armed with the painful truth etched in her heart that she would never see the world as others, Weinstein learned to see the “magic” in the world around her.
“It seemed as though everything I touched came natural for me,” Weinstein says. When she first touched a camera, her good friend, Jovi, a photographer, used a lot of her pictures from her G2 camera over the ones he had taken. “Jovi and his friend’s camera went ‘click, click, click,’ while mine went ‘click, click,’ and then it would pause,” she says. “I was shooting with an amateur camera then, but my pictures told a different story. I believe if you put a $5 guitar in someone’s hands, they’re still going to make beautiful music.”
Before pursuing her own natural talents, she worked two full-time jobs to make ends meet. During the day she managed several restaurant franchises and by night she taught court mandated classes as a counselor for the county of Los Angeles. These two jobs enabled her to retired at the age of 40, proving that her vision impairment didn’t determine her capabilities. This kind of unyielding passion and thirst for life made it possible to use her new pair of eyes—her camera and computer.
“I trust my camera,” Weinstein says. “It sees a hell of a lot more than I do!” She also trusts her computer.
Weinstein is also a digital painter. If she’s not using a snapshot she has taken to do a digital painting, she’s working on a digital oil painting from scratch. With over 200 pieces of her original artwork exhibited in shows and galleries in the greater Los Angeles, Weinstein feels she has come a long way from a little girl who wore bifocals the size of soda pop cans.
“The first time my work appeared in the Gallery Noir in Los Angeles, I didn’t tell them I had a problem with my eyes,” she says. “I got in as a solo artist in 2006, on the merit of my work alone … not too bad for a blind girl.”
Her show, “An Evening of 100 Unique Moments,” was originally intended for a one night only event, however, due to the overwhelming response she received from the Gallery Noir’s patrons, it continued.
In August 2008, Weinstein was chosen out of a pool of nearly 1,000 still photographers to shoot a music video for APL of the Black Eyed Peas. And in 2009, she had the pleasure of working with up and coming star Jasmine V. and shot the stills for her music video with Baby Bash.
Weinstein recently completed a portrait of the Queen of Swaziland Africa, commissioned by HRH Queen Ndwandwe. But, despite her many accomplishments, Weinstein says many of them wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for the inspiration she received from the teenagers she taught in the mandated classes in Los Angeles, her mother Rita, who now suffers from dementia, and her partner Tiffany, who passed away over a year ago.
“In many ways these people saved me from myself,” Weinstein says. “I have photographed my favorite band, weddings, celebrities, and I’ve been featured in major art galleries. As a motivational speaker, I can motivate people to see the world from my eyes. No matter what your situation may be, you can overcome any obstacle to go where you want to go.”
To arrange speaking engagements, or for a showing of Ava Weinstein’s work, please contact here through her website http://www.AvasEyes.com