When I think of my most important asset, I immediately think of my eyesight. I use it to drive, to photograph, to go to class, to work. I use it to get me around life. Without it, I couldn’t do anything that I loved, most importantly photography. The thought of not being able to do what my passion is scares me so much that I just force myself to stop thinking about it. Too scary.
I recently read about Amy Hildebrand, a film/digital photographer who was born blind. Her blindness was caused by Albinism. If you aren’t familiar, Albinism is a disease that causes a person to have complete lack of pigment in their hair, eyes and skin. They have very white skin and are very unique and striking. It causes visibility problems since the optical system is highly dependent upon melanin and pigment.
Amy’s parents tried experimental approaches to help give their daughter a better life. At 5months, she was the youngest person ever to wear contact lenses. They were painted with an artificial pupil to help her eyes with the light sensitivity, a common problem with Albinism. Amy had a surgery in her teens to drastically improve her eyesight and she ventured into the world of photography with her new gift that many of us take for granted.
In an interview with ABC News, Amy says,
“It [photography] felt natural to me. I started using the camera as my eye. I could show people exactly what I was seeing. I notice so much more. You’d be amazed how much you can remember — what people are wearing and where someone set a cup down. I have to remember those things to acclimate myself to regular society.”
Amy’s mother, Teri Shields says,
“As sighted people we have so much information we are processing because our eyesight is seeing so much. It complicates it. But in Amy’s view of the world, she’s so used to seeing things in intimate spaces, that she’s learned to appreciate what’s in front of her.”
I find her photos beautiful, well composed and interesting. It’s even worth more to me because of her unique point of view. As photographers, we all strive for that unique POV, the personal view that sets our photos apart from other photos. Amy’s work shines because her point of view on the world actually IS DIFFERENT. It’s so apparent in her photos the way she sees them and it’s amazing how well it emulates. I feel like photo sets like Amy’s really put the meaning into the saying “It’s not enough to be able to see, you must have vision.”
To see more of Amy’s work (trust me, you won’t be disappointed) go to her site, Best Day Ever and also take a look at her blog to see what inspires her. Her blog also has her photo project, 1,000 photos a day, which has gained internet momentum.
Excerpt from Amy’s blog,
“I’m fully dressed and just finished lunch. The trees are blowing real hard. They swing differently than the trees in Ohio, more lazily, more like how I feel being here on the island.My first attempt at a final image was crushed in the wee hours of the morning when Aaron and I woke up to find that it was a rainy, cloudy, day. So much for a sunrise shot and the idea of getting this day over with early. I fell back into bed and refused to think about my nonexistent plan B. The most common question I have received over this whole project is, “Do you know what your image of the day will be?” I never know what the image will be. Most of the time I don’t even know what it’s going to be until I am making it. Rarely do I take a photo and then instantly know it’s the one. But, for today I wanted to have something planned. I wanted to be pregnant and announce it this way, I wanted to be in the ocean at sunrise facing away from you, I wanted to take a photo like any other day, I wanted to say nothing with this photo, and I wanted to say everything with this photo. It’s too much pressure, that’s for sure.Aaron is blaring Joni Michell’s Blue album downstairs, he knows what I need right now. My old man keeping away my blues . . .I still don’t have a clue what my photo is going to be today.”
I think you’re awesome. This whole research post made me ask myself, how important is actual sight to photography?