Photographic Ideas: Seeing differently – Blind photographers.

Photography is a great outlet. For some it can be life-changing. I know of several members of our society who have found, and continue to find, that photography can be profoundly therapeutic and healing. As a society we aim to support photographers by providing opportunities for learning and for making friends.

One of our recent society activities was a shoot at an ACT Athletics event. Those of us who attended were impressed to notice the inclusiveness of the athletics community. It would be great if our society could also be as inclusive. A goal worth aiming for, I think.

Thinking of people with a range of abilities led me to reflecting on an article I had seen a while back about blind photographers. While this seems like an oxymoron, there are in fact quite a few blind and partially sighted people practising photography in meaningful ways. This got me thinking about the ways that we sighted photographers could learn about photography from those who have to draw on a range of senses to make their images.

There are several resources on the internet that illustrate the inspirational world of blind photography. I have just included links, rather than posting images, so that you can see how the images relate to the context in which they were created.

1989 Australian of the Year, Brendon Borrellini has developed a photographic practice after meeting Steve Mayer-Miller, Artistic Director for Crossroad Arts, an organisation in Mackay that develops opportunities for people with a disability to access and participate in the arts. Together they have come up with a technique to convert Brendon’s photographs into textured prints so that he can feel his images. A moving piece created by ABC Open Tropical North in July 2014 showcases this work.

I also came across a website that promotes a book by blind teenagers called “Seeing beyond sight”. This site is worth a look because it has a video (4 minutes – a bit long perhaps but it’s worth it) of a presentation about this book. From the site:

“Unusual as the idea may seem at first, putting cameras in the hands of visually impaired children proved to be extremely fruitful — both for the photographers, who found an astonishing new means of self-expression, and for the viewers of their images, for whom this is an entirely new kind of dreamlike and intuitive creation. Even before you know that these pictures were taken by blind teenagers, they are striking in their use of light and composition, and haunting in their chiaroscuro intensity.”

From these two videos I think we can learn a lot about how photography is an art that encompasses more senses than just sight. Perhaps if we too can learn to “feel” our photography we will learn to make more meaningful images.


One comment on “Photographic Ideas: Seeing differently – Blind photographers.

  1. Brian Rope says:

    Many years ago the now retired blind Canberra Times journalist came to a CPS meeting and showed some of his landscape photography slides. I missed the night but heard that his photos were good. Apparently he could see shapes and if he sat and looked at the projected slides for long enough he would see, and remember, the shapes that he had seen when taking the photos.


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