Why Photography by the Blind

One may certainly wonder about the reasons – Why do blind people take photographs? Why the discourse of the uninitiated in a domain where sighted experts prevails?

We live in an age of visual explosion; tons of images are created every day in different mediums – print, outdoor, television, cinema, Internet and art. Current visual culture is produced and consumed by sighted people while blind people are labeled as “non visual” human who can’t produced and perceive visuals. Societal perception about the blind people is deeply rooted in our historical, psychological and sociological influences.

This predetermined perception is not the true, blind people can  perceive the visual reality around them and they can also communicate through visual expressions.  Blind With Camera and several projects around the world on Art by the Blind have proved that blind people are “differently visual.”

Why do blind take photographs?
because they want to 
because they can
because to communicate their “mental images”
because to challenge perceptions 

Some pundits would critically rate photographs by the blind as mere snapshots captured with a high element of luck and whole idea is gimmicky or pointless .

Seeing through the Mind’s eye of the blind photographer is the purest way of looking at the visual realities around us, free from the falsehood of training, away from the influence of visual history and modern visual culture, away from the “Politics of Seeing” of sighted photographer – the conscious struggle for control, formalistic rules of perfection and intellect of visual literacy. The experience of sight is structurally idiotic, we end up seeing what we are trained to see, what we want to see, rather than the whole world which lies unseen before us. Interestingly, the process of sighted companion describing places and objects in great detail to Blind photographer make the sighted see details he would not notice otherwise. A reciprocal process, it visually enriches each other’s world.  

Photographs by the blind bring back to the surface photography as a ‘process’ rather than the ‘product’ and also reopens the gap between what we often ‘see’ in the photograph and what we are suppose to ‘read.’

Photography by the blind is a photograph of the blind, created by touch, sound, warmth of light, visual recollections of sight, cognitive skills and intuitive abilities without taking sight for granted. They are owner of their uninhibited process of creation. The experience of being a blind photographer is a small slice of the bigger experience of being a blind human being. Photography by the blind is the reunion of both these experiences and that makes their work thoughtfully different; reflecting their imagination and their point-of-view of the visual world.

One has to “read” the photographs by the blind by penetrating beyond the surface of the photographs to understand the ‘visual synergy’ that exist between image created in the mind of visually impaired photographer and visual realities in front of the camera. The play of conscious and unconscious, present and absence, sure and unsure and alternative perceptual experiences, experienced by the blind photographer and understand their emotions and feeling anchoring the images.

Why the discourse of the uninitiated in a domain where sighted experts prevails?
Art is found comfortably accommodating itself in perception and point of view of the view, of the sight, one would agree that art is to be enriched by another approach, by another gaze. 

Photography by the blind demystify the polarity between blindness and visual expression, make it truer to photography and liberates us from sight centric-ness, and bring us much closer to life.

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