At 24 years old, Houston Vandergriff has traveled the world, defied doctors odds and created a name for himself. I had the honor of interviewing Houston and his mother, Katie, on February 3rd, 2022, his episode aired on February 22nd.
Downs and Towns Photography
One way Houston communicates with the world is through his camera lens. He has the ability to transport you to the moment he took a photograph. You can hear the steadiness of the river as you look at his photos of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park or feel the cold air blowing as you look out onto Lake Bled, Slovenia.
His photographs don’t just stay in his b-roll, they are for sale on his website. Now, one may think that Houston is keeping all those proceeds for himself but that would be wrong. As an advocate, Houston is always looking for ways to give back to the communities he has visited. The proceeds from his exquisite pieces of work are donated to several non-profits that are working to make the world more accessible for those living with a disability.
Down syndrome Photographer
Houston was born with Down syndrome which is a chromosomal disorder. Down syndrome can effect one’s muscle tone, facial appearance, speech and more. There are three different types of Down syndrome variations. With Houston’s Down syndrome he has low muscle tone, which effects his speech making it hard to understand him at times. However, with the use of his photographs his message is crystal clear.
When I interviewed Houston, his mother Katie was there by his side to help answer questions if Houston asked her to. His face beamed when he stated that photography is a form of art that anyone can tap into, if they just try.
In 2019 Houston received his Certificate in Photography and then went on to earn an Advanced Certificate in Photography in 2020 from the University of Tennessee’s Professional Program.
World Wide Traveler
I’m not sure about you but Houston has traveled to more places than I have. Houston’s father is an engineer working overseas. Houston and Katie have the ability to travel with him at times. In 23 years of his life Houston has traveled to 49 out of the 50 United States and 26 countries.
What makes Houston so special? Houston’s way of communicating and sharing his passion with the world spreads hope, kindness and positivity. His smile is as bright as a cameras flash and his sweet demeanor is better than the world’s finest candy. He is showing the world that anyone can defy the odds. Anyone can dream big and achieve big.
More information on Down syndrome:
National Down syndrome society