An Eye for Photography

The words "legally blind photographer" don't sound like they should exist together, but local woman Maysa Hackens tells her story of triumph over a visual impairment.

RAPID CITY, S.D. — In the field with galloping horses in the background, you can hear the sound of Maysa Hackens’s camera clicking, archiving a moment in time.

Maysa Hackens Baby Photo

Maysa lives on a 4th generation ranch with her family — full of subjects to focus on. Maysa was born 3 months premature, weighing just 1 pound 7 ounces. As a result, she was put
on oxygen and at 9 weeks old her retinas started to detach (a side effect of the supplemental oxygen). They didn’t catch the right eye in time, so she has no vision in that eye, but an emergency surgery saved 75% of the vision in her left eye. She is considered legally blind, which limits her ability to drive or play sports, as depth perception is limited. But that surely does not stop her from living a life she wants — she says, “you just have to work with what you got.”

Maysa says, “I think it is just the way that God works — just to be able to give me low eyesight but give me the gift of work in photography, that’s kind of my purpose.”

Maysa Hackens taking photo

Maysa Hackens taking photos

From a young age, she was pulled toward anything creative. A senior project launched her into the photography field. Once she picked up a camera, she was a natural. She says, “It just clicked.”

Out of high school, Maysa attended Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown and majored in business and photography. When she received a tour of the school and expressed her interest being behind the camera, she received a familiar reaction.

“People say, ‘you know you’ve got to have eyesight to do photography,’ and it’s just funny how that all kind of worked out that this is what I’m doing despite my lack of vision,” Maysa says.

Maysa doesn’t lack vision, at least the kind that captures great photos. She loves a challenge, and her photography business offers her that opportunity.

Maysa Hackens

Maysa Hackens

“The fun thing about my job is you always meet new people and nothing kinda looks the same day to day. A lot of dynamics from the business side to the technical side to the people, so it’s all kind of spiraled into one,” Maysa says.

On an added note: The day President Obama made a commencement speech at Lake Area Technical Institute, Maysa received a shout out for her achievements.

Click here to view Maysa’s photos on Facebook.

Categories: Faces in the Crowd, Local News