CELEBRATING THE AMAZING
As we focus on the celebrating the community during Phases 3 and 4 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to also focus on celebrating the amazing and talented residents who live, work and play in our communities. Today, we celebrate Glancer's own, Mike Catuara, as he marks his ten year anniversary with the magazine and shares his journey living with autism.
When Did You First Discover Your Passion for Photography? What was Your Inspiration to Begin a Photography Career?
Ever since I was 16, I guess. Had a great time during the upper class years at Downers Grove South H.S. that I wanted to keep the best moments in my high school career and preserve them for life. But I had thoughts of going into broadcasting at first when I enrolled at Illinois State University. I couldn’t hack it in that field and ended up going into Graphic and Visual arts. I took photo courses there and did well, and continued to take pictures of mostly social events for the college yearbook staff. I guess social living was the thing that inspired me most for my picture taking.
When Did you First Discover You Had Autism?
I did not discover it when I was little. It was about 1970, I guess, when I was 3 years old when my folks were informed that I had the disorder. I guess I was 12 when my mother said to me is caused by a chemical imbalance of the brain, but it was not until I was around 19 when the word “Autism” was introduced to me. Once I read up on it in the World Book Encyclopedia, I remember saying to myself, “So that’s it!” Could you imagine what the odds were in acquiring the disorder back then? In 1970 alone, 1 in 25,000!! Today the odds are between 1-90 to 110...(1-70 in boys) now that’s shocking.
How has Autism Affected Your Career with Photography? You are Obvious Proof that Anything is Possible and that One Should Never Limit Themselves Based on a Medical Diagnosis
People who are autistic obtain special skills that are considered beyond levels of genius. Savants such as myself shows skills such as mathematical, artistic, musical, spatial and mechanical abilities. I discovered I had perfect pitch when I was around 11, yet never stuck to music. I could remember a long list of certain things, yet I never could remember some other life essentials. I guess autism gave me the skill to compose photos the right way using the “Rule of Thirds” method and design graphic trademarks and logos, quickly...which was what I originally wanted my career to be based on.
My case of autism was probably mild. Although I cannot imagine what life would be like if I was more impacted by it.
What Has Been Your Most Prized Accomplishment as a Photographer?
Working for Glancer Magazine. Thanks to Lindy Kleivo, I now make myself heard in doing what I love doing and making a career out of it, and enjoying being part of the Cosmopolitan Lifestyle and social events in Chicago’s western suburbs.
What is Your Personal Favorite Thing/Person to Photograph and Why?
I have no personal favorite person, place or thing, but being a man, I always have an eye for photographing beautiful women, (today at least!) but primarily it’s certain types of high end social events, (fashion shows, dances, parties) as well as low light sunsets, evening skies, night cityscapes and neon signs, especially in Las Vegas. I had a great time during my Senior Year in high school, and believe it or not, was obsessed with Vegas lights when I was only 6. Perhaps everything that reminds me of Vegas and past high school upper class events inspire me to choose my best pictures.
Where Did You Grow Up?
I was born in Chicago, raised in Darien, and had lived in Downers Grove, (just across Fairview Ave. from Darien,) since age 20.
Tell Us About Your Passion for Photography?
We live in an age where everything has gone digital. Film is now history, and digital photography now allows me to practice more than ever before by seeing instantly what I take and edit on a computer without the cost of expensive film and processing. I don’t know where I would be without it.
What Would You Like to Share About Your Journey with Autism?
I couldn’t take the past 52 years of my life and condense them down into a short interview, nor give parents of autistic kids who are reading this article false hope over their future, but all I can say that it time to do something about being made heard over autism as I have. It’s all up to you now as parents of autism to give, speak out, and fights for more to be done for research, care, therapy, and hope. I only wish we could have done so way earlier in time when I was diagnosed. Then again, with help from my family and friends, the journey with autism made me the man that I am today. I’m Mike Catuara, and I AM an autistic man.
Interviewed by Kristen Kucharski
Mike Is Pictured Above with Lindy Kleivo, Publisher of Glancer Magazine & at Glancer Magazine's West Suburban Office