Book Review: Seeing Beyond Sight, Photographs by Blind Teenagers


After listening to a radio show about a blind musician and photographer, Tony Deifell decided to teach photography to the visually challenged. He pitched the idea to Governor Morehead School for the Blind in South Carolina, United States. They initially thought it was a prank, but later agreed to give it a shot. Providing each student with a point-and-shoot camera along with some tips on composition, he sent them out to make photographs.

After the first batch of developed images came back, a disappointed Tony saw missed opportunities in the out-of-focus images, unrecognisable subject matter, and portraits of people with heads cut off. However, his perception changed when he saw a young girl’s images of cracks in the sidewalk. He thought they were a mistake. But she had sent them to the superintendent along with a letter asking that the cracks be fixed, as her white cane often got stuck in them. With Tony’s renewed determination towards the cause, the then temporary course would go on to become a part of the curriculum at the school.

The book is a beautiful compilation of images shot by the students of the school. It provides us, the sighted, a window into their world, where they learn new ways of self-expression. As the photographs unfold, they take you on a journey into what is relevant in their lives, things that we take for granted and they can’t. All this, coupled with the innocent captions and musings of the students, makes it one of the most moving photography books. My favourite quote from the book is by a student named John—”I was thinking that it would be sort of hard for a blind person to take pictures, but it’s not very hard. You’ve just got to listen.”

Title: Seeing Beyond Sight: Photographs by Blind Teenagers
Author: Tony Deifell
ISBN: 978-0811853491
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Price: Rs. 1502

Tags: Blind Photographers, Governor Morehead School for the Blind, July 2015, Seeing Beyond Sight, South Carolina, Tony Deifell