Movers & Shakers: the passion of colorblind photographer Alejandro Sanchez Ochoa is alive
Welcome to Movers & Shakers; a series where we take an in-depth look at the life of PNW for people who make moves, do great things and are just – in general – rad. Seattle is full of multi-talented and multi-faceted people, many of whom are at the intersection of technology and the arts. How do they find the time? What is their secret ? Well folks, we’re here to find out. Meet Movers & Shakers; aka Seattle Refined attempting to capture the not-so-secret life of awe-inspiring locals. A recommendation for us? Send an email to [email protected]
For the Seattle Sounders, it all depends on how much energy they bring to the pitch. And for Seattle photographer Alejandro Sanchez Ochoa, it’s about capturing that energy and sharing it with the rest of the world.
It wasn’t until he got his first disposable camera on a coveted excursion to Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo that his interest in photography was sparked. But at the time, it was just something Sanchez Ochoa found interesting or cool. As a little kid in elementary school, he never imagined that it could be a passion that would turn into something big.
Sanchez Ochoa, 27, grew up in the small town of Quincy, in eastern Washington state. His parents immigrated to the United States in the 1980s and he was the first in his family to attend college. With this, his goal of getting a college degree took precedence, so he didn’t put much effort into photography.
“No one looked like me as a photographer,” he said. “I never really knew it was an option.”
It is at the same time that Sanchez Ochoa discovers that he is color blind.
“It was my last year in art class, and I had to do a color wheel,” he said. “I remember the day very well.”
Sanchez Ochoa painted one color and grabbed another that he thought was entirely different, only to paint the same two colors on the wheel. After his teacher initially berated him for not completing the assignment correctly, he realized that his student might be color blind and suggested that he investigate the matter further. The following week, a physical exam confirmed his color blindness, and Sanchez Ochoa has since learned to work with it.
While earning his Bachelor of Science degree from Central Washington University (CWU), Sanchez Ochoa purchased his first digital SLR camera.
“I just wanted to take pictures, so that’s what I did,” he said. “I liked it.”
He set up a makeshift studio in his home at the university, continued to practice his craft, and eventually someone offered to pay him to do their senior photos. Having that moment aha, realizing that someone was willing to pay for their work, propelled him forward. But of course, it took a lot of practice, while navigating color blind.
Sanchez Ochoa is red-green color blind, which means hues of grays and pinks, reds and greens, and purples and blues are hard to distinguish. And as a photographer, it is important to be able to offer a balanced photo.
“I definitely had to learn to work around color blindness,” he said.
A CWU graduate and now working as a multi-subject teacher at Bellevue, Sanchez Ochoa has had more opportunities to shoot. He’s worked on projects for Seattle Kraken and Fidalgo Roasters, but what Sanchez Ochoa considers his most proud work so far is the opportunity to shoot during the Seattle Sounders’ 2021 season for the football-focused ICONIC magazine. .
“I was obsessed with football in high school. That’s all I thought about, ”he said. “I played football in high school, college and semi-professional.” But even with this passion and skill for football, he never imagined he would one day set foot on Lumen Field, let alone the field as a photographer, ultimately marrying the two passions together.
This season, Sanchez Ochoa has been fortunate enough to shoot just about every home game. And thanks to this opportunity, he was recognized by Major League Soccer in the Sounders game against Timbers.
“I didn’t think it was real when they contacted me,” he said. Sanchez Ochoa was invited to film the game for MLS from his perspective for the league’s “Our Soccer” project. And for him, it was totally surreal, a dream come true.
It was a dream come true for Sanchez Ochoa to be recognized for his talent by MLS, but it was also important for him to be able to show others what they can accomplish as well. A comment on Instagram told Sanchez Ochoa how nice it is to watch a friend from a small town do big things. And it’s a sentiment that can resonate with so many as Sanchez Ochoa continues to hone his craft and grow his business. Despite the pressure, despite the obstacles, despite his color blindness, he is delighted to show children that they can do something else, be it photography or some other passion, even if it doesn’t seem like it can turn into a ” real work ”.