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photo: Timothy O’Brien

Blind people who take pictures, may sound absurd or strange... Your ideas about what is normal or abnormal... we create prejudices without realising. We are so used to seeing the world only with our eyes that we believe without them we could not see... Timothy O’ Brien, blind photographer, explains why photography isn’t exclusive to who can see: “Vision, unlike beauty, is not in the eye of the beholder, as the expression goes, but lies instead in the mind and heart. Our experiences and feelings contextualise our sensory data. Our mind builds vision by folding sensory information; what we see, hear, taste, feel and even smell, into the patterns that we have already envisioned, creating a feedback loop that is sight. We see what we imagine we see. Without a full flow of data from the eye, imagination is the key to vision, letting the mind stitch together an image. So vision is more than sight, just as imagination is more than information. Sight may contribute to vision, as knowledge fuels imagination, but a creative mind needs neither to experience vision or imagination.” He shows how the blind see with touch and develop other senses that can perceive the world with the same efficiency as those who employ the visual sense.

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Vision in mind and heart

Harvesting Shots

Alex de Jong / Profile

Timothy O’ Brien / Interview

Alex de Jong considers himself a very visual person; the only difference between him and you is that he can’t see. He is a professional photographer who was diagnosed with cancer and then as a result of a tumor lost his eyesight.

I first took photography seriously about ten years ago with the arrival of decent digital cameras. Small prints and tiny negatives tempered any serious interest in image making.

Being blind has made Alex discover one critical factor; the brain produces images, not the eyes.

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As the technology allowed full-screen photo editing, I was lucky enough to share an office with a serious shutterbug.

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Vision in mind and heart Alex de Jong / Profile

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As a blind photographer he feels his talent is under constant scrutiny; “Taking a picture is so easy, you just need a camera, decide at which moment to shoot, press the button and then you have your picture. Why can’t the blind do this?”

photo: Alex de Jong

photos: Alex de Jong

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Alex appears a very conventional photographer; he carries his cameras with him at all times, but more recently he has found himself evolving and using his iPhone camera. This is not only for convenience but to complete the process independently, something of which is extremely important to him. For him his work isn’t just aesthetically produced but more importantly for provoking emotion. “A lot of people believe that photography is a window, when you look at a picture you can see something from someone’s point of view; how that person see the world, and how that person feels.

For me, my photos are more than that. They are mirrors, when people see my pictures they can reflect from them.” For Alex the responses from his audience are sometime more important to him than the picture itself.

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Harvesting Shots Timothy O’ Brien / Interview

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He introduced me to digital photography and the basics of image creation as well as the inspirational work of Cartier-Bresson and Sebastião Salgado. My colleague lent me my first serious camera and I haven’t been without one since.

photos: Timothy O’Brien

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photos: Timothy O’Brien

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photos: Timothy O’Brien

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From the click of the shutter, I need to wait for the digital darkroom before reviewing usage. With such small LCDs I have little of the immediate feedback, something so integral to many modern photographers.

The computer has very much become my darkroom. It is only on screen that the camera’s memory card gives up its hoard and I can begin harvesting the successful shots.

What is the most important element in a photo? Feelings? Techniques? Feeling is key to a usage, but that feeling will be revealed clearly only with good technique. Technique makes the camera invisible and connects the viewer to the subject directly. Without technique, the image is layered with distractions and distortions that distance and separate the viewer from the subject of the image. By technique, I mean more intention than formula. A photographer must have an intention when making an image and that intention can only be expressed through the syntax of technique.

photo: Timothy O’Brien

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Alex de Jong http://flickr.com/photos/lodrorigdzin http://seeingistouchingphototalk.wordpress.com/

Timothy O’Brien http://www.timobrienphotos.com/ http://blindphotographers.org

Brian Negus http://www.flickr.com/people/Briannegus/ Bruce Hall http://bphall.wordpress.com/

Pete Eckert

http://www.peteeckert.com/pho Kurt Weston http://www.kurtweston.com/ photo: Alex de Jong

hotos.htm

where and who

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Artmiks [image builders] St. pieterspoortsteeg 23a 1012 hm amsterdam +31 (0)20 42 33 555 +31 (0)20 42 33 666 info@artmiks.nl www.artmiks.nl

Why Blind Photography by Artmiks In Artmiks’ opinion advertisement is driven by sight and is –in that sense– short sighted. Artmiks wants to open the doors and look beyond the traditional. Technique is changing the world. At Artmiks we want to understand this change and research the new possibilities, opportunities and products this brings. This ‘Digizine’ called by it’s number and title is therefore the first of an irregular series on whatever broadens our sights. 01. is free and independent: Don’t act Blind; Follow your Vision.

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Spring 2010


01 // Blind Photography