Beyond the naked eye

Photography is perhaps the last thing to expect from a blind man. It is said to be the territory of people who can see. But in recent times, it has been proved that this medium is no longer confined to any category of people and even a blind man can take a perfect shot. There are many organisations like Sightsavers and Blind with Camera who train them to evoke their senses to capture the world in their camera.

But despite all their learning and excellence, photography in their lives is limited as a hobby and not as a profession.

Bhavesh Patel was in news last year after he shot Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif for a TV commercial. Patel, who is blind since birth, was trained in photography in 2010. But even he believes that no blind man can practically rely on photography as a full-time job in India. Patel works as an IT professional in Mumbai and pursues photography only in his free time.

He tells Metrolife, “Unfortunately, in our country, no one will give an opportunity to a blind man to shot anyone or anything. If someone does, questions will be raised. My shoot with Katrina was a part of the campaign to raise awareness about the issue and nothing more. A blind man, if he wants, can pursue photography as his side business but it cannot serve as a source of earning his livelihood.”

While clicking a picture, touch, smell, sound and surrounding of the object are some of  the important things a blind man has to focus on. In their case, sharp senses dominate sight’s advantage.

Ketan Kothari, a 47-year-old born-blind advocacy manager in Mumbai, recently gottrained in photography. According to him, there are some limitations for a blind man when it comes to handling a camera. The composition of the frame, lightings, settings are areas for which a visually impaired always need help.


“If you are born blind, then you don’t even have the visual memory to go back to. You need a good guide with you everytime, especially when you are photographing in-animated objects, it’s difficult. Even for a person who can see, clicking picture of a moving thing is not easy. Then how can you expect the blind to excel in that. Blind people can also not play a lot with settings. Someone has to make sure that the lens, flash and other things are in proper mode. Your guide has to tell you correctly that your frame or composition is correct. Also, there are some things which you can’t touch. You can’t expect 100 per cent accuracy from a blind man.”

He adds, “No blind man does photography as profession, at least in India. I do photography for fun, but the fact that I can’t see is itself a challenge. The irony of the whole world is that we are special but there are no jobs. And even the blinds are not interested in taking photography as their career.”

But Melip Dawa Sangma, who belongs to Meghalaya, is optimistic and aspires to become a professional photographer. The 35-year-old says that she’s ready to fight all the odds and convert her passion into profession, if an opportunity comes her way.

“There will be challenges but I can fight them. I was trained to click pictures just for two days at a workshop and in those days I developed the love for this art. I don’t own a camera right now but I’m looking for some job in Bangalore and when I will get one, I will buy a professional camera and start doing photography extensively,” says Sangma, who lost her vision at the age of two.

It is this optimism that is giving them hope to live a life of their dreams.

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