Blind Photography

 How is it possible to be blind and to take photographs? I am, and I do. So, how do I do it, and what on earth for?

Only about 10% of those who are classed as legally blind live in complete darkness. I have some residual vision in one eye, and total darkness in the other, but because I wasn’t born blind, I know that the blurry green thing outside on a brown stick is probably a tree.

If I’m interested in the tree, or puzzled by it, or surprised by it, I will take a photo of it, knowing that the camera’s focus is much sharper than mine. In fact, I’ll probably take lots of photos of it as I explore it, because digital pictures don’t cost anything.

When I get home, I’ll put them all on a big screen, courtesy of my PC. Now I can get close and personal to the tree, so that, when I stumble upon it again, I knowwhat it looks like, it is now a tree in my memory, my inner eye.

Now I can look for what interests me about this tree that I can now ‘see’ and take the pictures I really want to take.

I don’t edit them at all. They either work or they don’t. Either way, these are moments in a world I can’t see. The ones I don’t like, I delete. It’s as brutal as that.

Each photo on this site is a record of my struggle with a world that is grey and blurry and untrustworthy. I suppose they are my little triumphs.




About stevehobsonauthor

I am blind, and I hate it. It stinks. But life is still sweet. I have multiple sclerosis, and that stinks too, but life is still sweet. These are my musings.
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2 Responses to Blind Photography

  1. Peter says:

    Hello Steve,

    I read “Blind Photography” and then looked at your photos. Perhaps because I did it in this order the photos that had most impact, as least initially, were the more abstract ones. I was thinking about a world where a tree becomes a “blurry green lollipop on a stick”. So what, I’m guessing, you have to go on is shape, line and density? I’m not sure about colour: although you mention “green”, later on you speak of “grey and blurry”. Do you see colour or is it all shades of grey (plus or minus fifty!).

    My temptation is to write, none too coherently probably, about three particular photographs – the curve of polished, light reflecting, wood against the straight lines of a mottled grey and white wall; a riot of colour and line of some unspecified (at least to me) Disney product; and the edge of a swimming pool. It is the latter photograph that made me recall your description of how you see things ends with the word “untrustworthy”. There’s the fixed, repeated squares of sandy coloured paving stones, the ever-changing mottled blues of the water and between them are the black and white lines that mark a drainage system that deals with the overflow from the pool. But for the bare feet of a blind person – knowingly or not – these black and white lines are the demarcation between solid ground and its sudden removal. I’m referencing the photograph here and not real life. In real life you have hearing and would have heard the lapping of the water. But the photograph…the photograph ‘speaks’ about ‘seeing’/’not seeing’ but, reading “Blind Photograph”, I think it goes beyond that, it’s also directing us to another binary, ‘being aware/unaware’.


    Postscripts (3):

    1. It’s so bloody irritating that every time I type the word ‘colour’ it gets underlined in a wavy red line. You’d think that a system this sophisticated, where everything we write is available for scrutiny by American and British Governments who could also tell what I had for breakfast and whether, as a Socialist, I now felt myself to be disenfranchised, would have picked up the fact that I’m narrowly defined as ‘English’ and that the letter ‘u’ is always present in the word ‘colour’ which never ever appears hovering above a bloody red wavy sea!

    2. The phrase “none too coherently” comes as a result of taking the week off work and celebrating with a couple of snifters of whiskey.

    3. You’re in your element Steve. Looking forward to new additions.


    • Thanks for your response to my photos, Peter. I will need to spend a bit of time digesting it. The major difference between my photos and those of other people, I think, is that for me they are tools for living, rather than visual souvenirs.


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