Visually impaired people from India are exploring a visual art form like photography. Here’s to the techniques that guide them and the passion that motivates them.
So many in our country are shocked at the mention of photography by the blind, they cannot seem to wrap their head around the concept. Why and how would a blind person take a photograph? Like most photographers, persons with blindness too have been drawn to photography out of a curiosity to explore the world through images.
Photography by the blind extends the idea of seeing by reinventing newer ways of arriving at images. The senses of touch, taste, smell and sound guide the process along with devices that help access purely visual information. Thus learning to respond to sensory cues as well as to use available technology enables a blind person to take a photograph.
Now even in India it is not uncommon to find persons who are blind take a keen interest in photography. Partho Bhowmick (photographer and teacher), inspired by Hungarian blind photographer Evgen Bavcar started Blind with Camera in 2006.
Blind with Camera is a workshop where visually impaired students and youth can learn about photography and the visual arts. Over the years, hundreds have flocked to Partho wanting to unleash their imagination through photography.
Others who have been motivated by Partho’s movement include Pranav Lal, a Delhi-based cyber security professional who has been visually challenged since birth. Itching to explore something visual Pranav thought of giving photography a go.
He wanted a medium that would allow him to capture something that was beyond the grasp of his senses.
It was then that he came across a technology called The VOICE which enabled him to deepen his engagement with the medium. The VOICE is a vision technology that converts images to sound. It consists of a pair of dark glasses that are wired to a miniature camera along with a bone conduction headphone. The sounds allow Pranav to gauge the position of objects, height of objects, and brightness.
The Blind with Camera workshop equipped him with the basics of photography and gave him the confidence to finally capture the world around him.
His method varies from those photographers who are sighted in that he relies heavily on his other senses. He enjoys interacting with his subjects and is able to gauge a lot of what is going on visually through conversations with them. Additionally, the talk back feature on his phone gives him certain details about his surroundings.
Photos from Blind With Camera exhibition below.