Somewhat obsessively, I read about all sorts of things related to photography. One thing that amazes me is the diversity of approaches to making images. It seems that people are inventing and reinventing techniques every day. Some of those techniques are, well, let's just say they're outside the norm. Things like camera toss photography and free-lensing (might not want to try these at home kids) come to mind. Strangeness aside, results speak for themselves. If the images are good, the technique probably has merit.
The tendency for finding inventive approaches to image making most definitely extends to those photographing with limited or no sight. Necessity is frequently the mother of invention of these techniques and here too the results speak for themselves.
Here are a few photographers with varying levels of vision and correspondingly different methods of making images.
First up, yours truly. I have high partial vision (20/200) and shoot in a quasi-standard fashion. One of my challenges is an inability to see the exposure values and focus points in my view finder. My other primary challenge is seeing my subject in any detail. In my last post, I discussed techniques photographers use to solve these issues to a degree. One simple thing I do to better see my subject is to do a walk-around before shooting. I go up close and explore to figure out what details I'd like to include in a photo. I then move to a place that gives me the composition I want and then I choose a lens that gives me the crop of that composition that I prefer. If I'm unable to do the walk around, I instead do it with my camera. I simply snap a picture of my subject and then view the picture at high magnification on my camera's LCD to determine what composition I would like. Then I set up for the final picture.
My images vary among portraiture, travel, landscape, studio product and contemplative.
Image Caption: Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highlands. A long bridge curves in to the frame, leading to the castle in the center. The castle is lit by orange floodlights, which contrast against the blue dusk. Image by Mark Nicol
Sonia Soberats has an incredible life story to tell and many beautiful images to show. She has no sight. Her images are all made with a technique called light painting. The camera is set up in a completely dark room, the subject sits in front of the camera. While the shutter is held open, the artist moves various types of lights over the subject, foreground and background. Ms. Soberat's subjects sit anywhere from a few minutes to an hour while she paints with light. Her images are haunting and evocative and each one tells a unique story.
Brenden Borrellini is deaf-blind. He began taking pictures as a bit of gag while attending Crossroad Arts, an organization in Australia that provides people with disabilities inroads to accessing and participating in the arts.
He quickly took making images more seriously after finding that photography allowed him a new and exciting way to engage with the environment. Brendan takes a very tactile approach to making images. He explores his environment by feeling the surfaces around him. He uses his remaining senses to glean all he can about the environment. He relies on this exploration and on feedback from those around him to make his images. Rather than putting the camera to his eye, Brenden places the camera against his forehead. Presumably, this allows him to feel some of the camera's internal mechanisms working. Later, a device was found that could render tactile versions of Brenden's images. Using these tactile images, Brenden is able to feel what he has shot and reflect on his work and process, as any photographer looking at a print would do.
There you have it, three different photographers with three very different approaches to making images. Do you know of someone who is blind or partially sighted with a unique approach to photography? Tell us about it! Visit us on Facebook or Twitter and tell us your story!