Creative Work: Blind Photographers

As some FWD readers may be aware, photography is a hobby of mine (which I haven’t had nearly enough time lately to indulge in!). I love being behind the lens, I love looking at the world around me in new ways, and I adore working in the darkroom. I’m mostly working with digital photography these days and I miss the smell of fixer and developer on my fingers and the deep satisfaction of nailing an enlargement and having this whole new world of detail appear.

I love looking at work by other disabled photographers, and when I discovered the Blind Photographers group on Flickr, I was drawn not only to the images, but to the way that people write about photography and their relationship with the lens and the camera.

Poppies growing along with weeds, shot against a white metal fence. A road can be seen in the background. The focus of the composition is on an exuberant weed that fills the middle of the frame.

This piece is by Shmulik, an Israeli photographer:

I was born in Israel. I became blind at the age of 9. I am single and I am fond of trying new things. I am involved in varied activities including cycling, rowing, ceramic sculpting, singing, and more. I take pictures of everything: my close surrounding, objects and people, but especially nature and extreme sports, which I like to practice.

I really like the way the focus plays out here, how the world outside the fence is blurred, and I also adore the composition, with the lone poppy isolated off to the right. More of Shmulik’s work can be viewed on The Blind Photographer, a site which also has work by other Israeli photographers.

A photograph of a young boy in a diaper and nothing else, shot through a spray of water. He appears to be laughing, and the image is full of energy.

‘Frenetic,’ by Bruce Hall. This photograph was featured in ‘Sight Unseen,’ an exhibition at the University of California, Riverside.

Here’s another photographer, Craig Royal, in an interview at Blind Photographers (a site I would highly recommend!) talking about how he approaches photography:

BP: How do you think your images are affected by your eyesight?

Apart from trying to express my visual reality by way of a visual art form my desire to see more of the detail that surrounds me, though it being after the fact, plays a part in my choices of subject matter. Being very nearsighted I am not drawn to landscape photography.

More of Craig’s work can be found on Flickr.

A train yard, with an orange locomotive in the foreground and two red cabooses in the background on another track.

‘Today’s Engine Yesterday’s Caboose’ is by Riverrat, a member of the Blind Photographers Flickr Group. Although the image is stationary, it’s framed in a way that feels very dynamic and filled with action. I almost except to see the locomotive whisking off to the left.

Riverrat’s profile has a brief discussion of how he got into photography and the tools he uses:

Hi, I am legally blind from Retinitis Pigmentosa. I was always intimidated by a camera and computer until March, 2007,when I decided to give both of them a try. My photos are just snap shots of my everyday life. I use a digital camera and have Zoom Text on my computer, a magnification and reader program.

All of this looking at photographs to compile this post has me longing for that digital SLR I’ve been lusting after, although one of the interesting things about the Blind Photographers group is that many people are working with relatively inexpensive point and shoots like my trusty Powershot, and turning out really amazing work, illustrating that in the hands of a good photographer, a mediocre camera with a crappy lens can still turn out spectacular photos.

3 Comments

  1. I am loving this so much.

  2. I have a friend with borked periphery vision (bad medico) who takes photos so she can see the world differently through photography. I find that really fascinating (as someone with ‘normal’ sight with glasses), and she’s an awesome photographer. I didn’t know there was a wider (?)tradition of blind people consciously mediating their world through photography, I will go investigate!

  3. Hiya,

    this website may be of interest to you.

    http://www.photographerswithdisabilities.com/

    Chris Taylor
    Chris´s last blog post ..Photoshoot September 11th