Picturing life through mind's inner eye

Picturing life through  mind's inner eye

Blind she may be, but Romy John has not let the impairment to impinge upon her sense of vision. She strongly believes that being blind does not end one’s life but begins a new one that can be filled with aspirations and achievements.

Her ongoing project ‘Portraits of Blind’, a curated collection of 35-40 photographs of the visually impaired, is a true testimony to what one can achieve if one seeks to confront the reality instead of giving up on life.  An alumnus of Jyoti Nivas College, 38-year-old Romy, grew up in India but now lives in Texas, the US.

Conceived in April 2013, her Portraits of Blind has each one of the intuitively and instinctively shot photographs speak a fascinating tale, offering an unusual gaze into the lives and activities of visually impaired people from Texas.

Inspired by similarly blind people leading an independent life without assistance, Romy visited the office of the National Federation of the Blind.

From then on, over the next one and a half years, she continued to meet visually impaired people, as a project on them germinated. “Through my pictures, I wanted to show their talent and positive energy. Also, I wanted to share their story to inspire the world. I have been pursuing photography for many years and thought why not use my skills for this project.”

The portrait of Joe Paschall and Irma Pyka especially draws one’s attention. Paschall works at Texas School for the Blind as a physical education teacher and a coach.

Despite being blind, he participated in Boston Marathon. Similarly, Irma Pyka, diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP), lost her eyesight completely at 19. However, she lives her life with a spirit of adventure, travelling, skydiving, swimming in the open ocean with dolphins and whale sharks, says a proud Romy basking in the achievement of her ilk.

Besides photography, she has also penned stories on them. Noting that the photography project gave a new dimension to her life, Romy says her perspective on life changed after doing the project.

“During the project, I found heroes in every blind person I came across. Some people see visually impaired people as mere objects of sympathy and they are avoided by most. There is a certain stigma which I want to change.”

Brimming with novel ideas and zest to do more in life, Romy says her plans include publishing a book based on her project and printing the stories in Braille for the blind.

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