When A Camera Can Show The World What You Do And Don’t See

You could say that this blog post started off as a personal challenge to me by someone who I am working on a Photography Project with.  I hope it gives you a bit more of an insight (excuse the pun) into my vision as well as showing you ways of helping people like me.

“Write about your sight and your starting point for our collaberation and the use of photography was/is” might sound easy to you.  Well, it should be easy for a writer like me – shouldn’t it?  The trouble is – how do you explain concepts which people don’t want to understand in a way that makes it sound exciting?  How can you explain things which come automatically to you so that the uninitiated can get a taster of the challenges you face – without coming across as “Poor Me” or so bitter and twisted it can barely be believed?

Jon Bon Jovi wrote a song with some lyrics which may be able to help with at least one of the questions “I wish I was a camera sometimes – so I could take your picture with my mind. Put it in a frame for you to see” (“Ugly” by Jon Bon Jovi).

I can write reams and reams (and I have been known to on my personal blog) about what I can and cannot see – but I realise you cannot get a real taste of it unless someone finds a way of connecting your brain to my eyeballs so you can experience it for yourself.

The (perhaps over-) simplified version of my sight is as follows;

Without my glasses on my nose my life is literally a blur unless it happens within 3 centimetres from the end of my nose.

Even with my glasses on my life can throw up some very interesting scenarios and challenges.  You thought glasses were the best cure for severe myopia (Shortsightedness or Nearsightedness)?  Not when you get to my prescription they aren’t.

Forget having the ability to read very small type at all.  In fact – you can forget about the idea of seeing very small things.  The bigger the better.

I face three major challenges every day which may surprise you.  Light, Dark, and Angles.  Combine two or more of those and my life can become extremely difficult extremely rapidly.

I suffer (and you will see why I chose that word in a minute) with something called “Photophobia” which means my eyes are super-sensitive to bright lights.  This will explain why my ideal environment during a day with wall-to-wall bright sunshine is surrounded by a solid structure (preferably without windows).

Thanks to the severity of my myopia I cannot see in the dark either.  Here is an interactive experiment for you to try – close your eyes for a minute.  Then tell me what you can see with your eyes closed.  If you say “Black” congratulations you are nowhere near my level of myopia.  If – however – you say you can see colours I would seriously suggest you visit your nearest Opticians or A & E Department because your sight is seriously bad (my Prescription is over minus 20 in both eyes)..

Thanks to the combination of the two issues mentioned above – me walking around at night (as in when it is dark) is an interesting experience.  Especially when you add traffic into the mix with the bright headlights.  I can actually end up feeling very ill as a result of the contrast between bright headlights and dark – especially if I am waiting at a bus stop on a busy road which is badly lit.

The worst problem is angles.  Staircases can be a particular nightmare for me.  Wall, sheer drop, flat floor, are all descriptions I have been known to use for staircases (and other sets of steps).  Let’s just say that the worst invention I have ever come across in my life is something called a Protractor.  I am most likely to use it as a Frisbee.  My brain operates using three angles – right angle, average household staircase, and flat floor.  This also means I love things like handrails and contrasting edges to steps when someone decides to provide them.

Let’s turn those steps on their side for a minute.  You can probably stand some distance away from a shop entrance  – which is clogged up by racks of clothing or shelves – and see a clear path through it into your chosen shop.  I am really happy for you.  The trouble is – I actually need the same size of gap as a wheelchair if you want me to see a way through it.  This also explains why I will invariably walk on the road if cars are parked with their sheels on the pavement.

When I came up with the idea of using photography to let people see what I can actually see I just wanted to educate people about the challenges which people (usually unintentionally) put in my way.  I also wanted to give people a true idea of what it is like to face each day with a sight problem and also show the difference between what I can see with and without my glasses on.  I also wanted to highlight some of the similariries between the two states (there are more than you may think – especially when it comes to me doing certain tasks).

When the project has been completed I will be able to show you everything I have talked about in this blog post so you can see for yourselves.

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