Category Archives: to describe

Maori Dancers by Darek

Maori Dancers on a stage

Here is another photo from Darek’s New Zealand trip. One of the best things about travelling is definitely meeting people from different cultures and getting an undoubtedly superficial and short but nevertheless thought provoking insight into their culture, history and traditions. Personally, I know nothing about the Maori, except that they are an ethnic group (the word ‘tribe’ sounds somehow condescending to me) living in New Zealand. Having seen a group of their traditional dancers, I still don’t know much more about them, but they feel a bit more ‘real’ and ‘present’ to me now, and maybe I’ll go and read a book about them some rainy Sunday.

Dancing is a very visual activity, and although a photo doesn’t capture movement, it would be nice to know how the dancers were positioned in the split second the trigger was pushed. What clothes and shoes are they wearing? What do they look like? Are they wearing jewellery or make-up?


Darek Kayaking in NeW Zealand

man in a kayak

And here is Darek himself in a kayak. Many people find it more difficult to describe people, but often there is more to describe in a picture of a person than in a photo of mountains or a sunset. How would you describe Darek to someone who cannot see? Does he look happy, excited, maybe a little scared and why do you think so? Especially people who are blind or visually impaired from birth often do not know what a happy or a sad face actually looks like, since they mainly notice emotions in people’s voices.

Flipper in New Zealand by Darek

Dolphin Jumping out of the water

This rare moment was captured during Darek’s three long visit to New Zealand in 2015. It was organized by Vision Outdoor, a German travel company offering organized trips with sighted assistance to blind and visually impaired travellers. I think whoever took the photo was really lucky to capture the dolphin before it disappeared under water again. Most people never have the chance to see one of these fascinating mammals very close up never mind being able to touch one, so it would be great is somebody could describe what is to see of the dolphin and how it jumps. Is it more silver-grey or blue-grey? How much of it comes out of the water? What else is there to see?

Empty Seats By Darek

Microphone and empty seats

This is another one of Darek’s photos from his holiday at Rügen in 2011. We got a folder with about twenty pictures and were asked to choose pictures we liked for our to describe section. Between the usual holiday snaps of happy-looking people on boats or groups standing in front of sights or nice nature backgrounds were some photos which most people would have deleted immediately when separating the ‘good’ from the ‘bad’ material: Pictures where people and objects are cut off at the edges, blurry and shaky scenes or photos like this one, where there’s nothing to see, only a microphone in the foreground, rows of empty looking chairs and walls, of a church perhaps? But is that nothing? Maybe the casual observer should look a bit closer. Are there any interesting details? It is like an in-between scene; after or before a concert, but not completely empty.

If we’re honest, the better part of our lives consists of before and after important events. Most of the time there isn’t much to see and this is not as bad as it sounds, because small things matter and we need these transitional moments. While being unsure or unable to differentiate what are conventionally considered ‘good’ from ‘bad’ pictures can be frustrating for blind and visually impaired photographers, it can also save pictures like this from being deleted without being given a chance to trigger emotions or thoughts in at least one viewer. The microphone in the almost empty hall suggests silence and somehow peacefulness to me. The photo made me think, therefore it shouldn’t be deleted.

If you’re looking for a challenge, describe a photo that shows ‘nothing’.


Elephants in Town by Tina

Elephants in Town

I don’t particularly like circuses, because travelling around in cages and performing tricks has nothing to do with the life animals have in nature or even in zoos, where their natural environment is at least recreated. I just had to capture the way the peaceful grazing elephants contrast with the concrete apartment blocks in the background and at least these elephants have grass and the one in the foreground still has his tusks. It would be great if someone could describe some more details, especially what’s happening in the background.

To Describe: Spooky Moon by Tina

Spooky Moon

This is one of my pictures of which I’m really proud. Often the best pictures present themselves to us, when we least expect it and are not even looking for good shots. This was certainly the case with this one: I was walking back home from the gym and looked up at the moon, trying to find out whether it was already full or not. I guessed it was and I wasn’t too pleased, because I find it hard to sleep in nights with full moon. Anyway, it looked pretty. I took a picture with my phone camera and walked on without even looking at the result.

Several days later, I scrolled through my photos in search of some I could delete to make space on my phone. It took me a while to recollect what this photo was and where it was taken. I didn’t expect the moon to be so clearly visible. Usually shots in the dark are blurry and overexposed because of the automatic flash. I didn’t even see the branches of the tree and how they reflect the light, when I took it. This is what I love about photographing; I have more time to look at the taken pictures and can even zoom in on details, which I’m not able to see in the original scene.

I suppose this picture is rather difficult to describe, because it consists mainly of light and shade, not distinguishable objects, but maybe you see some more details in it.

Photo of the view from our kitchen window by Beth Finke and Mike Knezovich

This photo was sent to us by Beth Finke from Chicago. I wrote a comment to the post “Describing a photograph to someone who can’t see it” on Beth’s Safe & Sound blog and was invited to write a guest post about Photo Narrations: “I used to think that “blind Photographer” was an oxymoron”. Now Beth and her husband Mike sent us this photo. To describe it, please contact us at Click on the picture for a larger version. We look forward to reading your description.

View from our Kitchen Window

Hi all,

We live on the 7th floor of an apartment in Chicago’s “Printer’s Row” neighborhood. Printers Row is a tiny neighborhood in Chicago just south of the Loop. The buildings in our neighborhood were originally used by printing and publishing businesses.
Before electricity, printers used natural light to check their work, so the windows in neighborhood buildings are tall and wide. You know, to let light in. The ceilings are high, too, to accommodate old printing presses.

Most of the buildings in Printers Row have been converted into residential lofts, and  we live in one. There’s always a lot of activity up and down the street, so I feel safe walking around.

This photo is of a park in our neighborhood called, appropriately, Printer’s Row Park. Not sure if it shows in the photo, but the cement blocks where people can sit are actually reverse type faces to simulate the printing presses that used to be in buildings here.

I’m sending this photo because I walk with my Seeing Eye dog past this park every day but rarely walk into it to find a seat. The layout of the park is too confusing to feel confident about where I am. I’m hoping the description your volunteer narrators come up with might help me navigate, plus I’m curious to hear what you all think of our view from the seventh floor.

I did not take this photo. My husband Mike Knezovich can see, and he took it outside the south-facing window in our kitchen.


Beth Finke

Recipient of a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts

Visit our blog:

Hi Beth,

what we see in your picture is a street with cars parking on both sides and not many people. It is a landscape format and the street is crossing the picture in a 45 degree angle from the lower left corner to the upper right. As you say we look down on it from the seventh floor, so everything is pretty small. There are young trees on the opposite sidewalk along the big brick house of at least six storeys, as far as we can see them. It is an old building with big windows with crossbars. The entrance is in the middle, forming a large brick arch of two storeys to walk under when you enter. But it is closed for practical reasons and opens only on the ground floor. The top is  a window. The building takes all of the opposite side of the street. At its far end we look out on a small crossing with lower brick houses in the back. At our side of the street there is a big grey wall that must have once been covered by another building. Now we see the bare bricks that were not meant to be seen when the house was built. There are no windows. Where this other building used to be, there is now a big gap. It is taken by a small park. The line of trees along  this side of the street opens up in a small clearing formed by a broken circle of trees. The circle repeats twice in the concrete blocks to sit on. They are arranged in two concentric circles in front of and behind the line of trees. In between there are plantations. There are broad and narrow blocks. Spaces between them vary from half meter to one and a half. Maybe that’s due to  the sentences the type faces form. Those must be the type faces you were writing about. I cannot tell from far if they make sense or form a text. Some are very short. In the center of the circle, concrete blocks form an octagon. Could be a fountain, but I cannot see it, trees block my view. Those trees are planted in line with a second circle within the other, but this is just a quarter circle without concrete blocks.  It is a nice geometrical composition indeed, that we observe from high above.

But if you are down in the street, to you it should be merely a small round square that opens up on the sidewalk. Yet, there is a big thing in the center that you need to walk around and a circle of conrete blocks to sit on on both sides. The diameter of the inner circle seems to be 10 meters. The opening to the sidewalk ist about six meters wide. On the right hand side of the picture, no more trees are visible. I cannot tell if the circle is continued or not.

I hope my description wil be helpful for your orientation. The day the picture is taken, there is some mysterious action going on. We see a large truck parked at the entrance with a wide open trunk. Alongside in the street there is a fire engin with a big ladder. Next to it, in the other lane, there is a single trailer with a lifting platform. Someone is putting up a screen of three by three meters at least. This screen is green. It is there, in the center of the picture, a vertical green screen floating next to a truck, facing a park. The three men in the park don’t give an explanation. Neiter do the two people walking in the middle of the street. There are three cars approaching, but everyone is cool. The street is not blocked by sign or anything. My standard explanation for things like this is TV, but who knows.





Hand touching a leaf in the sun, by Katrin Dinges

Dear photo narrator,
please describe this for me!

This is another photo of my balcony. Sometimes I try to take a picture
of my hand while it touches something. The reason is that this is the
most important experience I can get from things: By touching them. So
I can tell something about my experiences in touching and smelling and
others can tell me something about what they see. When we exchange our
different kinds of taking part  in the world of senses, we can learn
something from each other. I have learned so much about seeing through
the descriptions in our German description blog! And  many, many
memories of the time when I was a child and teenager and could still
see a little bit, come back through these dialogues. Also sighted
people can learn something from me. Often someone says to me: “Oh, I
wouldn’t have noticed this detail, if you wouldn’t have
asked me about it!” Or I have a question about a phenomena
connected to sight which is naturally for sighted people, but not for
me. So we learn from each other every time we talk about pictures and
the border of being able to see or not is vanishing a little bit.
That’s what I really like about photography.
A hand and two small leaves

Green tomatoes in the sunshine, Katrin Dinges

Dear photo narrator,

can you please describe this for me!

This is another picture of my balcony, taken a bit later in 2014. I loved
these tomatoes. They were delicious – when they became red. This is a
green one. Did you ever experience the smell of tomato plants when
you’ve just watered and touched them a short moment ago? That’s
something you should be able to take a smell-photo of!!!
Little tomatoes in the sunshine

Flowers on my balcony, by Katrin Dinges

Dear photo narrator,

please describe this for me!

These are some flowers on my balcony last summer. In 2014 I made a lot of photos of my balcony between spring and autumn. This was the first year with my own camera and it was a pleasure to have the possibility to document the process of growing – the opening blossoms during all the weeks and months. I always enjoyed letting my fingers slide over the leaves and blossoms. If I did that, I forgot everything I had to do or think about and afterwards I felt relaxed and full of peace. The smell when I had given them water or it was raining, was unbelievably delicious. I am looking very forward to bring some new green and coloured “friends” there, during the next weeks. It smells already so good like springtime outside! Pink blossoms