Feel-good Story: Special Olympics Colorado athlete finds passion in photography
posted by: Mile High Mamas
James Kropp wears many hats. He is a certified personal trainer, a Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO) athlete leader, a fitness captain who leads workouts for SOCO Virtual Wellness Challenges and he is a creative photographer.
James, 22, has Downs Syndrome and lives in Denver. While some people may only view James through the lens of his disability, he is much more than that and does not let it define him. He completed high school and then pursued a two-year associate degree in physical education – something that he practices with his involvement in SOCO. Taking his fitness interests to the next level, he is also a certified personal trainer and holds a blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do.
James discovered his passion for photography in high school when he joined the yearbook staff. As a photographer, he discovered that he enjoyed viewing the world through a lens. “When I was on the yearbook, I would just take the photo and not do anything with it,” James said. “Now it’s completely different.”
Now his photography passion has blossomed as he photographs his fellow athletes. James will be volunteering his time photographing the Boulder and Aurora Polar Plunge and 5k events in April, where he will be using his photo skills instead of his SOCO athlete skills.
Wanting to learn more about the art of photography, James started visiting different places and witnessed people snapping pictures with their iPhones. He realized that he could do that too!
“I started taking my own photos and really enjoyed it,” said James, who taught himself how to take pictures using various apps on his iPhone. Today he takes photos wherever he goes and is able to capture his unique perspective of the world.
“Everything is about light,” said James, who is always looking at the lighting around him when he takes photos.
James uses the Camera+2 app to shoot in TIFF (extremely high quality) for Special Olympics Colorado events so he can control the shutter speed and get the best shot.
James even has his own website where he sells his work at Photography by James Kropp. James selects very specific photos to sell on his site. He believes people will enjoy them and he adds a little extra effort touching them up to ensure they look great. James keeps some of his photos just for himself because he likes them so much.
If James were to give one piece of advice to aspiring photographers out there it would be to get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to see what you can capture on the camera.
“Go to different places and go after different shots,” he said. “You have to be more creative.”
In addition to James’ website, you can also view his photography shots on Instagram at @PhotosByJamesKropp.