Inner Vision of a Legally Blind Photographer
As a photographer losing vision due to RP, a lifelong visual impairment I was born with, I have to constantly adapt and find new ways to keep doing this passion and profession that I love.
There was a time when I didn’t even own a camera. I spent years not experiencing the joy of photography, simply because I couldn’t see in a darkroom or read the settings on a camera. A born artist, I began to sketch and write short stories at age 12, and I wore a camera around my neck at age 5. I could sketch and write while growing up with a visual impairment, but practicing photography the way I really wanted to–the way Ansel Adams did–in a dark room and with a professional camera–was an impossible dream. I couldn’t see in a darkroom, nor read the settings on a camera.
So I was left with taking family snapshots with disposable cameras, or mailing film off to be developed in a lab.
It wasn’t until 2013 that my dream of being a fine art photographer was revived, with my discovery of point-and-shoot digital cameras with auto settings and a 47-inch computer monitor. These two things, combined with the art education I’d had in high school and college, allowed me to express the photography I’d held inside.
Yes, my visual impairment prevents me from being the perfect photographer. I can’t adjust settings for lighting, or see the expression on a subject’s face, because the world looks bokeh to me, but I have my own ideas of what I want my art and photography to look like, and it’s these images I look for when deciding which photos to keep, and which ones to delete. Believe me, I delete many more than I keep. And although I love the vibrancy of color, I prefer black and white because, besides just loving it, having RP means I see better in high contrast, at least in my case.
I may not always get the perfect shot, and I know I miss a lot of what is out there in the world to capture, but being able to practice photography at all is thrilling to me.
Author Bio: Tammy Ruggles
I’m a legally blind photographer based in Northern Kentucky. I’d like to show others that the visually impaired can create art; just in a different way.
Some of my published credits include Vox Media, LION Magazine, American Profile, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Spirituality and Health, Newsmax, AOLRise, TheMailOnline, Huffington Post, House Beautiful, Country Living, and many more, including literary journals, art magazines, photography publications, and a few exhibits. My first paperback book, Peace, was published by Clear Light Books in 2005.