Accomplished photographer overcomes loss of sight
By Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski, 460th Space Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 18, 2015
BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Robert Weinberg, an employee at the Envision Express on Buckley Air Force Base, helps military members equip themselves before leaving on a deployment. Whether that be fitting someone for boots or helping them pick out cold weather gear, Weinberg enjoys helping those who are about to go into harm's way.
Weinberg is also an accomplished photographer. From weddings to portraits to business advertisements, he had a successful career taking photos before working at Envision Express.
However, while it isn't apparent in the store, Weinberg lives with a handicap.
Twenty years ago, while Weinberg was continuing his career as a photographer, he began to lose his eyesight.
"I am legally blind," Weinberg said. "I basically have central vision loss."
He went through significant sight loss in the spring of 1996. He went to a retinal specialist who gave him the news that there was nothing he could do to reverse the loss of his sight. However, fortunately for Weinberg, the damage to his retina wasn't as severe as it could have been and he would be able to retain a portion of his sight.
Although Weinberg wasn't completely blind, coming to grips with what was happening to his sight was very difficult.
"When I started losing my sight, I did go through a depression," Weinberg said. "It will affect your life unbelievably. It took a long time to adjust."
Weinberg had been working a photographer for years when he started to lose his eyesight.
"The majority of my work was people," Weinberg said. "Whether it was business or life events, weddings, anniversaries, bar and bat mitzvahs, you name it."
Weinberg developed his passion for photography while working for the Volunteers in Service to America Program in St. Louis, Missouri. He bought a camera and began taking photos of everything.
"That gave me a passion that I wanted to go further with," Weinberg said. "So I went to school and got an associate degree in commercial photography at Colorado Mountain College between 1973 and 1975. After that, I immediately went to work for a professional photograph lab, Colorado Camera."
From the start of his career at Colorado Camera, Weinberg continued to excel in photography. He did work as a photojournalist and worked for many agencies.
"I worked as a photojournalist, in studios, all different kinds of work to stay alive and make a living in this business," Weinberg said.
When Weinberg's sight began affecting his ability to do his job, he began seeking help in order to deal with his loss of sight. He began using adaptive equipment in order to help him continue to be independent.
Understanding he wasn't going to be able to continue his career as a photographer, Weinberg looked for a new job that could fit him and his situation.
In 2003, Weinberg accepted a job working at the Envision Express on base and has been working there for 12 years.
"Robert is a terrific employee and friend," said Dave McCrady, Envision Express store manager. "In my interactions with Bob, I've never considered him "impaired". He uses all the visual aids that Envision has provided and does a great job with customers. He is an extremely valuable resource for Envision because he embodies the very lifestyle that our foundation promotes. He is an ambassador for the company and maintains a high profile on base. Bob is an inspiration to everyone he engages with. His outlook on life, his gregarious nature and his background in the arts and his fierce independence are inspirational for everyone here at the base supply center and the customers."
Although Weinberg has been dealt a difficult hand, he has taken it in stride and has learned to be happy with what he has been afforded.
"Life is a gift," Weinberg said. "It makes you realize, loss is a part of life. Your life becomes more precious in some ways because you realize how finite and lucky we are to have all of our capabilities.