Learning photography from my “blind” companion

October 2, 2009

As a high school student, I had a close friend who was blind.  We’d often visit museums together, and both of us received permission to touch the sculptures. I was her starting guide, sharing my visual organization in a physical way so that she could then experience through touch something of what I took in at first glance.  Of course she could have explored any one of the sculptures completely on her own, slowly building up a very complete picture.  But in our sensory collaboration she could translate my “glance” into her world.  My visual ordering was helpful to her.

What a wonderful training for dance photography!  I had to become conscious of what I was seeing, and had to express that vision clearly.  What I experienced in a glance and shared by my movement my friend would take in through a much more lengthy sequential process.  What dancers express through their movements over time I now express in a number of static images.

Working with my blind friend Jane, I was, in effect, saying to her,
“Here … look at this!” It might have  been a texture, a form, a hole
surrounded by matter, but, whatever it was, my guiding her to take it in as
one whole helped her perceive it.  She was informed by  my “at a
glance” perceptions — although she was not bound by them.

Today, when I take a picture and exhibit it, I’m really saying, “Here … look at this!”.  Perhaps my vision, and my passion, can inform yours.

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3 Responses to “Learning photography from my “blind” companion”

  1. krishna said

    What a heart touching article, Arthur? Have no words for your helpfulness towards your friend Jane.

  2. Arthur Fink said

    While I appreciate the sentiment, I should emphasize my theme here — That Jane helped me to “see” at least as much as I might have helped her!

  3. […] Learning photography from my “blind” companion – how a sighted and a blind person collaborated to explore exhibits in museums, benefiting both. […]

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