How do you take photos with your mobile phones or your cameras?
A very stupid question – Right?
No, no just think for a minute and answer, I am sure everyone will say that we see the subject/scene on the screen of our phones or through the viewfinder of our cameras.
Well, yes; absolutely right. But if I tell you to close your eyes, take you to a unseen spot and then ask you to frame your photo and shoot – you surely will say that I have gone insane. But friends, I am fully sane at the moment, you see thats what a few visually impaired persons have done. People who have no eye sight since their birth or who might have lost eye-sight at some stage of their lives, have come forward and suing their hidden senses have clicked some lovely splendid pics.
For me too it was an eye opener. Till yesterday when I saw this wonderful work showcased through an exhibition at the British Council in New Delhi, I used to think that the best thing that I can do with my eyes closed is to pray, meditate, sleep and or kiss. But meeting these handfuls of blind people and the helping hands behind them – touched me deep inside.
The exhibition has photographs clicked by some 20 such person who are blind since their birth or lost their vision some time ago. About 30 images are on display on different subject. Landscapes, monuments, people, dance forms, everyday life related activities are some of the many subjects that have been explored by these photographers. Mr Ketan Kothri from Mumbai is one of the 20 photographers, who do not have vision since his birth. But his inner vision I would say is much stronger than mine and many others.
The idea was developed over the past year and during the last six months Mr Partho Bhowmick of Beyond Sight Foundation in association with Sightsavers started the initiative June 2015 where the blind were trained on how to click photographs using cameras. Two photography workshops were conducted with people having visual impairment and the photos created were presented thereafter in form of exhibitions in two cities, Bangalore and Mumbai and also online as virtual galleries; all culminating in a final photo exhibition at Delhi at the British Council.
Mr Ketan Kothari, one of the participating photographers said that blind people may not be able to see as a normal human, but they do have keener awareness and other senses. And it was his vision to bring forward these realities to the fore and show the world that Disability is not a curse but it is a god gift which when properly utilized can produce great results.
At the exhibition a few photographs were real classy ones and when Mr. Partho told me the stories behind them- it was really heart-touching. One photograph of shadows – Mr Partho told me that when they were out for the shoot in Mumbai streets, and as he was instructing them to use their senses of hearing and lights and shades, one of the participants tapped him and said that there was a shadow area where they were standing. This person lost his sight when he was quite young. So using his memory he could sense the feeling of a shadow area and of a sunlit area. He went ahead and clicked a picture which turned out to be a master piece and has won a prize. Also another winning picture of flying pigeons was taken by using the hearing sense at a feeding area in Mumbai.
Another significant feature of the event was a musical show by a few visually impaired people, namely Ms Saroj, Mr Sagar, and Mr Murad, belonging to the Hausala Organisation. They sang a few hit numbers of bollywood movies which kept the entire audience captivated and everyone was glued to their seats till the end.
Sightsavers (www.sightsaversindia.in) , an organization dedicated to the blind started operations in the 1950 in UK and in 1966 in India. They work to eliminate avoidable blindness and help bring equality for people with disability. Their vision is of having a world where no one is blind from avoidable causes and where visually impaired people participate equally in society. Active through three thematic areas of Eye health, Inclusive education and Social inclusion they run different programs like Rural eye health, School eye health, and Urban eye health.
The event saw the presence of eminent photographer Padamshree Raghu Rai, who also was amazed to see the photographs. He mentioned that with his vast experience, he sometimes says jokingly that he can now even take pictures with his eyes folded. But he too was charmed seeing the results of shooting with really no sights. Mr Partho, Founder, Beyond Sight Foundation (www.theblindview.in) , Mr R N Mohanty, CEO Sightsavers, MS Gill Caldicott, Director Operations, British Council were also present on the occasion.
I am sharing a few images taken during the exhibition for your references. Please think over it friends and if possible come forward and help out a few of such impaired people with your moral, financial and practical support. I have already pledged my support in form of providing training at future photography workshops.
Video link of Hausla organisation