As unusual as the idea of blind photography may seem at first, there have been many people and organizations at the intersection of visual impairment and visual arts for a long time.
Famous visual artists
Many famous visual artists continued to work with varying degrees of success after becoming visually impaired, among them Mary Cassatt, Honoré Daumier, Edgar Degas, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, and Georgia O’Keeffe. Degas and Munch even took up photography later in their careers, partly because of their failing eyesight. A good resources in this area is The Eye of the Artist by Michael Marmor.
Notable blind photographers
- Ralph Baker
- Evgen Bavcar
- Henry Butler
- George Covington
- John Dugdale
- Flo Fox
- Alice Wingwall
- Tim O'Brien
Faith & Seeing
The metaphors from Seeing Beyond Sight find resonance across various religious beliefs. See examples of how the stories from the book have been used in Jewish and Christian and Buddhist traditions.
Literature & film
- "Cathedral" - a short story by Raymond Carver
- "Seeing" - chapter two in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, a
Pulitzer-Prize winning book by Annie Dillard.
- Sound Shadows of the New World, a book by Ved Mehta, a long-time writer for the New Yorker. This book inspired the name of the literacy-through-photography program featured in the SEEING BEYOND SIGHT book.
- And There Was Light, a book by Jacques Lusseyran
- Proof, a film about the life of a blind photographer (Hugo Weaving) who is looked after by a housekeeper is disrupted by the arrival of an agreeable restaurant worker (Russell Crowe). People have written that this film was inspired by the life of Evgen Bavcar, but I checked with the writer/director Jocelyn Moorhouse, and there is no connection.
- A Janela Da Alma (Window of the Soul), a 2001 Brazilian movie about blind photographers.
- To See and Not See, by Oliver Sachs (article from the New Yorker). "What happens when an adult who has been blind since childhood suddenly has his vision restored? The experience of Virgil, a fifty-year-old Oklahoman who regained his sight after forty-five years, raises questions about perception that have haunted philosophers and scientists for centuries."
Videos on human perception
- Physics & Seeing — "Is it so hard to believe that the blind can take beautiful pictures? Perhaps. But, may be not. Let’s explore our senses and see what we might find." ~ David S. Mazel (see full post)
- New research — Blind man walks around obstacles using hidden pathways in the brain, suggesting that "we all use subconscious brain resources and can do things we think we are unable to do." Full story on the BBC from 12/22/08.
- New Camera for people who are blind — One of Time Magazine's top inventions of 2008.
- Eating Blind? — Abandon vision in exchange for a new, multi-sensual dining experience. Three restaurants around the world where people dine in the dark!
- Sight of Emotion, (AKA Ojos Que Sienten) - a project to celebrate blind photography. Runs workshops in Mexico & worldwide. (their website translated in English).
- INSIGHTS, Lighthouse for the Blind's annual art exhibit in San Francisco's City Hall.
- Blind Photographers — an online power-house for blind photography: blog, Twitter and Flickr group by and for blind and visually impaired photographers (run by Tim O'Brien).
- Blind at the Museum, an exhibit that investigates the nature of blindness and the “visual arts” through the work of many artists
- Seeing with Photography Collective & Shooting Blind book - here's an incredible Flash site they've built
- SEEING Collection at the Exploratorium, San Francisco
- Literacy Through Photography started by Wendy Ewald at the Center for Documentary Studies
- Blind with Camera - a program in India run by Partho Bhowmick
- Media Dis&Dat - blog about media images & disability
- There is recent evidence that suggests that "blindsight" - i.e., the ability "see" even if completely blind to visual stimuli - is real (and is due to previously unknown ancient evolutionary sensory pathways). See Blind Man Navigates Maze.
A few inspiring stories
- John Bramblitt, a blind painter in Texas, in a YouTube video (the reporter's voice is a bit cheesy for me)
- "No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro (Washington DC) in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities..." FULL ARTICLE in The Washington Post.
Note: Please upgrade your Flash plug-in to view our enhanced content.