Blind Photography Baby Steps

I love, love, love photography.  Seeing a beautiful photo and knowing that I took it makes me feel like an artist.  I was interested in photography in high school and college, but forgot about it in the hustle and bustle of raising little children.  It was only when my eyesight began to deteriorate and I found an online group of blind photographers that my love of photography returned.

I have been taking, cropping, and editing photos since I learned about this method of “seeing” the world through photography.  A lot of my photos are absolutely terrible.  Once in a while, I look at one of my photos and think that it is really good.  This makes me want to do something with that photo, get it out into the world somehow.  I have been sharing my photos through this blog and have received some good feedback.

I recently read the book Dream Manager and began to talk to my family about their dreams.  I gave each member of my family a blank Dream Book and asked them to begin to write down their dreams.  Of course, I want to set an example by keeping my own Dream Book.  Since my birthday, I have been thinking about and writing down my dreams.  Several of my dreams have to do with photography – improving my photographs, having photos included in a show, selling my work, writing a book with my photos as illustrations, and developing a class for low vision photographers.

I have already taken tiny steps toward improving my photos and have opened a shop of my photo note cards on Etsy.  When I look at my note cards, I feel a mixture of pride and embarrassment – I love my photos but worry that they are not professional enough to try to sell.  Regardless of my worries, I want to expand my little shop from the three sets of notecards that I now have “in stock.”

With so much emphasis on photography in my Dream Book, I thought it might be a good idea to upgrade to a better camera.  My little point and shoot is portable and easy, but it is not very high resolution and I am sometimes disappointed in the quality when I try to crop.  So, today I went to a photography store to look at DSLR cameras.  I had looked at what some of my blind photography friends have posted online about the kinds of cameras they use.  I had looked at features of various cameras online.  I felt somewhat prepared.  I explained my low vision situation to the salesman and he seemed to listen.  Then, he showed me two cameras.  They were both good cameras, but both were lower resolution than I had wanted.  He assured me that they had as high a resolution as I would need.  Hmmm.  I asked about another brand, a brand that a couple of low vision photographers use.  He said that they were good, but directed me back to the two choices he had already given me.  He didn’t even take the other brand out of the case.

The cameras that he showed me were more expensive than I had expected, after researching the brand of DSLR that I thought I wanted.  I don’t know how much the store was charging for the cameras I thought I wanted.  The salesperson did not talk to me about those, even thought I asked.  I had hoped to examine and try several types of cameras but really felt pushed to make a choice between the two he was offering.  No matter how much someone else loves a camera, I want to be sure that I can use it.  A DSLR is a big investment and I want to be sure I am buying the right one.  I asked to try the cameras he had out and he did hand me one to look at.  He told me that the battery was about to die.  I tested it out a bit and handed it back.  Even though the salesman was nice enough, I felt kind of foolish.

I left the store feeling a big disappointed.  How does a person know which camera is going to be right?  Especially with my vision continuing to deteriorate, I want to make a good choice.  I don’t want to invest in a camera that I will not be able to use.  I felt overwhelmed and foolish and kind of stupid.  I decided that I am going to focus on getting as good as I can get with my point and shoot.  When I am careful, I am able to get some beautiful photos.  I don’t need to jump into buying a more expensive camera.

I looked through all of my photos today, put some on a flash drive, and took them to be printed.

I now have a big pile of photos that I love and I am going to use them to make some more notecards.  I will beef up my shop on Etsy with these new cards.  I will keep working on improving my photography and editing skills.  I know that the best way to get better at photography is to practice, practice, practice.  I will keep asking questions and learning.  I will keep thinking of more tiny steps I can take to make my photography-related dreams come true.  And, I will keep dreaming.  Someday, my photos will be in a show.  Someday, they will illustrate a book.  I am on my way.

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10 thoughts on “Blind Photography Baby Steps

  1. It’s true: it’s not the equipment you have, but what you know what to do with it. You have a great sense of style in your photos already, so don’t feel like you HAVE to get something right away. With this in mind, I’m now putting in my little two cents worth.

    I got a Canon Rebel xSi a couple years ago and I just love it. I can no longer see the fine focus myself, but it has a very good autofocus feature, and stabilizer for antishake. This has really improved the quality of my photos. I also like the feel of the camera in my hand; it’s got a good grip and is not too heavy. I also want to put in a plug for a good place to buy equipment, because of their excellent customer service. B&H Photo out of New York is an excellent dealer and has some great buys in their used equipment as well. http://www.bhphotovideo.com

    I follow you on Twitter, and really appreciate your blog.

    • Hi! I visited your shop. I love your braille shirts. I don’t read braille, because I am too lazy to learn at this age, but I do love the way your shirts look. Thanks for the info about your camera. I’ve heard from several people that they like the Canon Rebel (various models), so that may be a good place to start when I look again. As you say, it is fine for me to concentrate on getting better with the camera I have for now. Thank you so much for the kind words.

  2. Yes! Keep dreaming & publish that book. I’ve always wanted to do a book of my own photos too, just keep leaving that idea on the back burner. I upgraded my camera to a Canon DSLR Rebel and love it! Am still fumbling through how to use all of it’s features. My previous camera was a Kodak Z612 with image stabilization, which for me was a step below a DSLR. It is currently collecting dust in the closet, so if you would like to borrow and use just call. Hey, this would be a good way for us to have dinner 2gether. Maybe next week sometime? Love & Miss ya lots. ~ Sheila

    • Thanks, Sheila. We would love to have dinner with you. This week we are all about Robotics. The competition at RIT is this weekend. So maybe next week would work. Thanks! I would love to try out your camera for a short time. It would give me a better idea than holding one in the store. I miss you too. I hope it works out so we can get together. What evenings are you available? Also, let’s encourage each other to get those books published! Love you!

  3. I’m not visually impaired but I am a novice photographer. A few years ago (maybe 3) I bought a Canon Digital Rebel XT. I’m not sure they still make this model I think they may have put out a newer version of mine but I love it.

    It was easy to learn to use and a good weight. It feels good in my hand. I’m not worried about dropping it (I’m a dropper) because it has a nice handhold.

    I’m not great but you can see the photos it takes on my Flickr page. Some of the photos are from my iPhone but most are from the Digital Rebel. http://www.flickr.com/photos/soapboxgirl/

    I bought mine at OfficeMax but if you want to lollygag and take your time looking at cameras Target and OfficeMax and Best Buy all have camera sections where you can pick up and hold and play with each one. It’s what I did. I went to Best Buy to look at and hold a few I was interested in and then found the best price at OfficeMax on Black Friday.

    • Thank you. I really appreciate all that you have shared with me. That is a great idea to try a big box store. Definitely less pressure than a photography store. Your photos are great. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Chris Gampat wrote a useful article called “Cameras to Help Blind Photographers” about a year ago.

    http://blog.blindphotographers.org/cameras-to-help-blind-photographers

    Chris has some kind of visual impairment himself, and certainly knows what he’s talking about.

    But in the end, as you seem to be hinting here, it’s the person behind the camera who’s important – you could take a beautiful photo with a very basic camera and get into a real muddle with a high-end camera.

    Seems to me that it’s a highly personal matter which camera will feel good to use. I’ve heard of blind photographers using everything from a scanner to an old-time plate-film camera to the latest DSLR connected to an iPad as a large viewfinder. All sorts of things are possible. Maybe hiring a camera for a couple of weeks would be better than relying on some dumdum in the camera shop! Difficult one, though.

    Oh, yes, and I want to buy your book, so in the nicest possible way, dream on!

    • Thank you for the link to the article. It was very informative. I am not going to be purchasing anything until i get a chance to try some cameras. And until I see if my vision is going to stabilize or keep deteriorating. I am just going to keep working on improving my photos with my point and shoot. Thanks for the encouragement about my future book. it will move from a dream to a work in progress as soon as I make the time for it. I have it written down in my Dream Book, though, so it is becoming more real.

  5. Morning Belinda! Yes yes please complete that dream and get the book published. I love looking at photos and love to follow photo/artistic people. By the way that’s how I found you. Its was via me reading about a blind male photographer in Turkey but sadly lost all the imfo when the stupid BB crashed.
    So glad I’m again able to read your wonderful blogs as soon as I open my eyes.
    Have a gr8 Sunday and enjoy church.

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