Tag Archives: Photography

Sighted Volunteers wanted for Photography Workshop for People with Visual Impairments in Dublin

black and white picture of a group of people taking pictures
copyright Stephen Wilke

We are thrilled about the number of people with vision impairments who got in contact with us to book a place at our photography workshop held on the 8th and 9th of July at the NCBI head Office, Whitworth Rd, Dublin 9. Some participants will even travel from other parts of the country to attend. To ensure the availability of assistance for everybody, the event is now booked out, but we have a waiting list, so feel free to get in touch.

We are still looking for further volunteers to assist the participants to develop ideas for their photographs, to help them to capture the pictures and to describe the results. We know a whole weekend is a big commitment, but you can also volunteer for one day only.

Who can Volunteer?

  • Anyone who is interested in the project and would like to try out digital photography and light painting
  • Experience and / or an interest in photography would be brilliant, but are not necessary. Everything we do will be explained.
  • Equally experience in working with people with vision impairments would be great, but is by no means required.
  • So, if you would like to try out something different and enjoy meeting new people this volunteering role is for you! We are more than happy to answer questions via email or phone.

What: Free 2 day digital photography and light painting workshop

When: Saturday 8th July, Sunday 9th July.

Who is it for: participants with visual impairments interested in trying out photography and sighted volunteers, no experience required

Where? NCBI Head Office, Whitworth Rd. Dublin 9.

How to register? Email picdesc@gmail.com for further questions and to register.

What to bring: enthusiasm for trying out something new, smart phone or digital camera and props e.g. scarf’s, hats, costumes and LED flash lights, if available

Run by: Karsten Hein (organises photography workshops for visually impaired people in Berlin)

Outcome: exhibition of photographs with accompanying texts, Permanent online exhibition and article at www.photonarrations.wordpress.com

The idea:

 The photography workshop challenges the prevailing misconception, that blind people have no understanding of and interest in visual arts. People with physical disabilities tend to be in pictures, rather than taking them. This project aims to turn the ‘gaze of the spectator’ around, giving those who are usually stared at an opportunity to portrayal the world through their own eyes. Professional and hobby photographers from all backgrounds are welcome to come along.

The resulting exhibition will promote awareness among the general public and showcase the artistic talent of the participants.

How it works:

Karsten Hein runs popular workshops for blind and visually impaired photographers in Berlin. This seminar will include digital photography and light painting. Light painting takes place in a completely dark room and only the areas previously illuminated with a flashlight are visible in the final photograph.

After an introduction to the basics of photography, the participants will be asked to take pictures of places and people that are important to them or objects they use in everyday life. While the artistic representation is important, it is often the story behind it that makes a picture interesting. Light painting is more conceptual similar to designing a stage set and the participants will pose as each others models.

The participants will be divided into small groups with at least one sighted assistant in each group. They will discuss their ideas together, put them into practice, select their pictures for the exhibition and write the accompanying texts. At the end of each day the groups show each other their photographs and describe them. It is not only an art workshop but also a fun day out and a great way to meet new people.

 

Photography Workshop for People with Visual Impairments in Dublin

a black and white photograph of a woman with dark glasses and head holding a camera. Two younger women help her to take the picture.

 

What: Free 2 day digital photography and light painting workshop

When: Saturday 8th July, Sunday 9th July.

Who is it for: participants with visual impairments interested in trying out photography and sighted volunteers, no experience required

Where? NCBI Head Office, Whitworth Rd. Dublin 9.

How to register? Email picdesc@gmail.com for further questions and to register.

What to bring: enthusiasm for trying out something new, smart phone or digital camera and props e.g. scarf’s, hats, costumes and LED flash lights, if available

Run by: Karsten Hein (organises photography workshops for visually impaired people in Berlin)

Outcome: exhibition of photographs with accompanying texts, Permanent online exhibition and article at www.photonarrations.wordpress.com

The idea:

 The photography workshop challenges the prevailing misconception, that blind people have no understanding of and interest in visual arts. People with physical disabilities tend to be in pictures, rather than taking them. This project aims to turn the ‘gaze of the spectator’ around, giving those who are usually stared at an opportunity to portrayal the world through their own eyes. Professional and hobby photographers from all backgrounds are welcome to come along.

The resulting exhibition will promote awareness among the general public and showcase the artistic talent of the participants.

How it works:

Karsten Hein runs popular workshops for blind and visually impaired photographers in Berlin. This seminar will include digital photography and light painting. Light painting takes place in a completely dark room and only the areas previously illuminated with a flashlight are visible in the final photograph.

After an introduction to the basics of photography, the participants will be asked to take pictures of places and people that are important to them or objects they use in everyday life. While the artistic representation is important, it is often the story behind it that makes a picture interesting. Light painting is more conceptual similar to designing a stage set and the participants will pose as each others models.

The participants will be divided into small groups with at least one sighted assistant in each group. They will discuss their ideas together, put them into practice, select their pictures for the exhibition and write the accompanying texts. At the end of each day the groups show each other their photographs and describe them. It is not only an art workshop but also a fun day out and a great way to meet new people.

 

black and white photo of a blind and a sighted woman positioning a camera to photograph another woman in front of them together.

Common prejudices blind and visually impaired photographers encounter

What’s the point in being interested in visual arts when you can’t see? You should do something with sound instead.

This is an attitude blind and visually impaired people working or being interested in visual media and arts encounter frequently. What’s the point in going to the cinema, a dance performance, a comic convention or an art exhibition, if you can’t see? Especially some completely blind people agree with this sentiment, and that’s their choice. Equally some sighted people enjoy listening to audio books, but aren’t interested in art galleries. My point is that everyone should be able to choose his or her interests independently. There are many blind musicians and DJs out there, and while it is possible that they work with audio media partly because their hearing is better trained to compensate for the lack of vision, first and foremost they do it because they love music. It may be hard to imagine for a sighted person, but our visual impairment isn’t the most important aspect of our lives.

You are blind, therefore you can’t appreciate visual art the way sighted people can.

To be honest that’s a rather impertinent assumption, especially if you have never met me before, and I hope my friends wouldn’t say things like that. Probably all you know about me is that I’m visually impaired which seems to be all you need to know to categorize me. I could be an art student or a visual artist, you don’t know. Additionally, appreciation is subjective and not measurable. People have told me long enough what I can and cannot do.

Considering you are visually impaired, your photos aren’t too bad

This is probably meant as some kind of complement, however a very condescending one. I doubt you could tell the difference, when presented with works of blind and sighted photographers or abstract art displayed side by side in a gallery. Comments like that are the reason why some blind artists choose not to disclose their disability.

You should add that you are blind when your work features in an exhibition, that makes it more interesting.

This ties in with the previous comment and again is probably meant as helpful advice. Nevertheless, disclosing or not disclosing a disability is a very personal matter and we want people to like or at least respect our art, not to pity us.

You won this price because you are blind and the jury was impressed and pitied you.

This is the flipside of “you should sell your disability to your advantage”. Whether we disclose our disability or not, someone will always disapprove of our decision, therefore it is best to follow intuition instead of people’s advice. Many artists reflect on their disability and its consequences in their works. I said before, that it is not the all defining aspect of our lives. Still it is there and we have to deal with it in some form or other every day. It would help enormously, if society would stop stigmatizing disability as something negative; it can also have creative potential. Some great works of art would not exist in the form they do, if the creators would not have had a disability or some physical or mental illness. Disability can be a way through which to explore art. It can raise awareness and create more positive representations.

You should be grateful that people book you as photographer, therefore you should work for free or charge less than sighted photographers.

Firstly, yes there are visually impaired people working as professional photographers. If you book a photographer for an event, you should meet and talk to him or her first. The person will more than likely tell you about the visual impairment; show you how he or she works and bring sample work. If you like what you see and hear, great! Employ the photographer, if not find someone else, but don’t ask disabled people to work for less or nothing, just because you assume they deliver lower quality results or need more time for the same amount of work. This attitude is simply discriminating.

Give me the camera! I take the picture for you.

Personally, I can live with: “Would you like me to take the picture for you?”. I would never give my camera or phone to a total stranger who demands it. He or she could simply run off with it. Overly helpful people mean well, but please ask if help is welcome, before forcing it on someone. I prefer to ask for help, if I need it, instead of being asked at every street corner. The tenth time, I’ll probably react annoyed and you’ll feel rejected and I’ll feel sorry for having being so abrupt later.

This photo is wrong; you missed the main object in the scene.

There is no right and wrong in art. Maybe I focus exactly on what I want to capture. I’d appreciate if you’d say something like: “Can I help you directing the camera towards what you want to photograph?”, instead of trying to take the camera away from me or to judge my art.

A blind photographer? You are not really blind! How many fingers do I show?

This question makes me feel like a curiosity in a freak show. The only person who gets an answer to that question is an optician. But now that you’ve asked already, in fact the majority of blind people are not completely blind.  Most still see some shapes, colours or light.

You don’t take your pictures yourself

By saying this you accuse me of plagiarism. I really don’t have to proof and justify myself and my art before you.

Do you have more examples? Or do you want to write a post from the perspective of someone who met a blind photographer?  Share your thoughts in the comments or send them to us at picdesc@gmail.com

Photo by Stephan Wilke

 

 

 

A blind art photographer tells her story: Part 5.1 portrait photography

Hello to all hobby photographers,

After talking about the technical basics, it’s now time for some practical advice on how to actually take good photos. So, let’s start with the different types and categorisations of portrait photography. Generally speaking, every photo partially or completely showing head and body of a person is called portrait. The only exception are photos where you see someone from behind, but I’ll talk about that later. Angle and perspective effect the viewer’s perception of an image.

There are several ways to categorize the various types of portrait photography:

1. Format:

 a) Landscape format:

As the name already suggests landscape format portraits focus on people and the landscape surrounding them. Although the background is important it should remain simple. Too many details and people behind the main objects can be distracting and the photo appears too ‘hectic’.

b) The portrait format:

on the other hand focuses on the main person in the picture. There shouldn’t be many or only blurry details in the background, in order not to distract the viewer’s attention away from the person in the foreground.

 2. Distance between photographer and subject

This describes how far apart from each other the photographer and the depicted person are and how much of the person’s body is visible in the picture.

a) Total view or entire scene

Total view: person standing in front of a tree

A person surrounded by landscape can be photographed from greater distance to depict emotions like feeling lost or lonely but also positive feelings like freedom. The closer the camera goes to the person, the more he or she moves into the main focus and the background loses its importance. The midway option between these two extremes is suitable for group photos, where, depending on the size of the group, a bit of background should still be visible. The total view focuses on the person and how he or she is positioned within the surroundings.

 The following options depict only parts of a person’s body:

b) American shot:

depicts a person from the knee upwards.

c) Medium shot:

depicts a person from the hip upwards.

d) Medium close-up:

depicts a person from the middle upper body upwards. Because this is the way we normally see people when looking at them, medium-close ups appear natural and familiar to us.e) Shoulder close-up: depicts a person’s head and shoulders.

medium close-up of a couple in festive clothes

e) Close-up:

depicts the person’s head and sometimes part of the shoulders.

f) Extreme close-up or cut-in:

extreme close up of a foot

depicts only one body part or small detail of a person e.g. mouth, eyes or hands.

g) Italian shot:

depicts only a person’s eyes.

3. Position of the person’s head

Sometimes a slight turn of the head can change the way viewer’s interpret a portrait significantly.

 a) Frontal view:

is very popular with hobby photographers, especially in the day and age of selfies. The person is positioned straight in front of the photographer. Professionals use this perspective rather seldom. It often looks stiff and artificial, because it depends exclusively on facial expressions.

b) Quarter-profile:

The person’s still looks at the photographer but her or his face is slightly turned away. This position is more popular, because it conveys more emotion for example thoughtfulness

c) Half-profile:

half profile of a woman

The head is turned so far away, that one eye is still clearly visible. The person can still look at the photographer but more often the gaze is turned slightly away from the camera.

d) Three-quarter-profile:

The face is turned even further away from the camera. The second eye is only partly visible or insinuated. This gaze into the far distance conveys thoughtfulness.

e) Profile:

Only one half of the face is visible. Like the frontal view this position is rather static and therefore seldom used by professionals.

f) Lost profile:

or three-quarter profile from behind. In this position frequently only the contours of the cheek bones are visible. The viewer’s perspective is as if he or she looks unnoticed over the person’s shoulder.

g) Back View:

back view with water panorama

Even though a person is in the scene, the main subject of the image becomes the landscape which the person is viewing. The person is used to attract the viewer’s attention towards a given area of the total scene. Therefore he or she becomes a pointer (visual aid). The head or body itself may become a silhouette depending on the lighting conditions. This technique draws more attention to the background and is frequently used in landscape photography e.g. a person looking at a water surface, mountains or a sunset.

4. Perspective

a) Normal perspective:

is commonly used for snap shots. The person is captured at eye level, making the picture look accustomed to the spectator.

b) Frog perspective:

The photographer captures the subject from below eye level e.g. by kneeling on the ground like a frog. Make sure to ask the subject to tilt their head forward as you don’t want to shoot the image looking up their nose. This perspective can portray a person as powerful, threatening or distanced.

c) Down angle:

frog perspective of a man

A person is photographed from a position above his or her head, suggesting smallness or subservience. It can also make the viewer wanting to protect the person.

5. Line or direction of sight

Maybe you want to ask now why you should pay attention to this, since you’re already considering the position of the person’s head. However, taking the direction in which a person is looking into consideration can intensify or counterbalance stylistic effects suggested by the perspective.

a) Averted gaze:

The person appears to be alone and lost in thought looking at something else in the scene or out of the frame in at a distant point. You can use a subjects direction of sight to help you as a photographer point to another area of the image you would like to stress to the viewer.

b) Direct gaze:

The person looks straight into the camera, thus making eye contact with the viewer. The picture is not so much about what the person may feel or think, but about the gaze and what feelings and memories this look suggests to the viewer.

This should be enough to start with. In part two I’ll give some more general tips regarding portrait photography.

Until than!

Yours

Nadine

Translated from a German post by Nadine Alexander Meißinger with advice from Keith Harness.

 

Facebook Group Challenge: Find the Blind Photographers in “Photographers with Disabilities”

I recommend the Facebook group “Photographers with Disabilities” to everyone wanting to get in touch with other disabled photographers. As the name suggests, it is not specifically for blind and visually impaired photographers, and personally I like the openness of the group. It helped me realize that other disabled photographers require different equipment and working environments to photograph. While I need a big display, speech software or tactile buttons an someone to help me to select the good pictures, others may find it difficult to hold a camera, or to get the right location and perspective while sitting in a wheelchair.

Most members post examples of their work in the group. Sometimes with comments where, when and how it was taken, but without alternative text (caption describing in more detail what is to see in the picture). I’m “guilty” of this myself. Thus, while being a member of this group if you are completely blind, may not be that rewarding, there are occasional links to articles about disabled photographers and discussions about photography and equipment in general. The group currently has around 450 members, but not all of them are constantly active, so there isn’t too much traffic. It offers a great platform for questions, discussion and inspiration.

Challenge: Find the Blind Photographer

I recently posted a link to an article by a fantastic blog called Sandy’s View entitled “How do blind people take pictures of things” under which some blind photographers contributed their motivations to take pictures. Out of this discussion developed the idea to ask EVERY group member to post one of his or her best pictures in the comments. Subsequently, everyone who wants to take the challenge is to like every picture which he or she thinks is taken by a blind or visually impaired photographer. This is not intended to single anyone out and it doesn’t really matter if you guess right or wrong. It’s just to make people think and to show, that after all there isn’t such a difference between sighted and blind photographers. It’s more about the photographs themselves and the emotions and feelings they convey, than about the person who took them. However, to make this  a meaningful experiment please share a picture in the comment to the link posted to the group by Tina Franziska Paulick on the 15th of January and don’t forget to like only the pictures which you think were taken by blind or visually impaired people

Join the Group Here.

 

 

Christian Ohrens – Blind Photo and Video Blogger

Christian wearing a shirt saying: "Starrt mich nicht so an ... ich bin doch nur ein blinder Fotograf" = Don't stare at me like that I'm just a blind photographer"

All sites and videos referred to in this text are in German, nevertheless we want to share this interview hoping it may inspire some of you to start a similar project. In the introduction to his blog, Christian tells his readers what inspired him to take up photography and filming as a blind person, and how he works:

Why photography and film?

When I was in college, I worked a lot in audio-visual media, mainly film and TV and I always wanted to film something myself: a place, an interview, anything really. There have been numerous blind people who allowed camera teams to follow them to document their everyday lives. But I wanted to hold and direct the camera myself, as blind director of my own film, so to say.

The resolution to take photos came shortly before my last trip abroad. Why always describe my experiences exclusively in words? The majority of my friends are sighted and I wanted to show them where I’ve been. Why shouldn’t a blind person take holiday smaps to bring home some memories? I also thought it would be interesting to take pictures based on chance and intuition instead of being guided by sight only, thus focusing on the obvious things everyone can see.

How do you take your photos and videos?

I use descriptions by passing people, sounds and landmarks I can touch such as walls, stairs and doors as guidelines. I ask people to describe the surrounding or explore an area on my own and than decide whether a place or object interests me or not.

Christian doesn’t strive for perfect and exact photos. He regards his work as an experiment and the best shots often happen by chance. Through his commentaries in his videos, Christian’s viewers get his personal take on places. By combining what is to hear and see they get a bigger picture.

What equipment are you using?

Currently, I’m using an Exilim by Casio, because it has useful automatic modes as well as automatic corrections on lighting and angle. It’s light and compact. For filming I’m using the action-camera Sony SDR-AS15, which can be easily attached to a small tripod.

How do people on the streets react when they see you?

Many sighted, but also some blind people don’t understand why a blind person takes photos. Often they can’t or simply don’t want to try to understand it and admittedly the way I photograph looks rather random at the first glance. Other people mean well and want to help me immediately. In the past people have tried to guide my hand or even to take the camera away from me to take what is in their opinion a better picture.

“Beware … Blind Photographer”

To stop people from ‘interfering’ but also to raise their curiosity for something they regard as unusual, I started wearing a T-Shirt saying: “Don’t stare at me like that … I’m just a blind photographer” on my photo and video tours. It gets the message across in a funny way without sounding too harsh: We are blind, but we have the same interests as everyone else. We don’t make fun of sighted people listening to audio books either.

Did you take all the photos on your blog yourself?

Yes, about 80% of the pictures shown on my blog are taken by me. I often asked people to describe my surroundings and aim according to them. The other 20% are pictures where people guided my hand or took the photo for me. The photos are as they are: original, no photo shop, no selection, even if one object is depicted ten times, even if it is blurry and even if only a white wall or parts of the motive are depicted. Many of my photos would have been deleted by sighted photographers, but that’s the whole point of my experimental project.

Some of Christian’s Works

He already did photo and video trips to Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Trier, Recklinghausen, Marburg (all in Germany), Scandinavia and even Jekaterinburg in Russia. He also works as DJ and Radio presenter. You can find out more about him on his German blog and YouTube canal.

translated quotes and photo copyright by Christian Ohrens