Charlie by the Portal Photograph by Pete Eckert, blind photographer
So I am getting ready to go catch a show by renown New Orleans jazz pianist Henry Butler at Snug Harbor tonight and while looking at his website I noticed a link on his site to his photography exhibit. Nothing too strange about a musician who is in to photography; I certainly am. But what struck me as strange is that Herny Butler is blind. At first I thought I must have misread the link. Surely it was an exhibit of photos of Henry Butler and not by him. However the link directed me to Site Unseen a collection of photographs by the blind. I was intrigued by the idea so I had to see more. Sight Unseen is a very interesting and beautiful collection of photographs from several different blind artists. In some way these blind photographers capture things that those of use with the gift of seeing eyes miss. In reading the introduction to the exhibit I was struck by a profound statement,
Sight is so pervasive and powerful that it makes us unaware of our own blindnesses. We see, and this is so strong that we think we understand.
As I looked through the Site Unseen exhibit I began to think of how a blind person might actually take the pictures.
What might make a blind person click the shutter at that moment?
What sounds, what smells, what acoustics?
What type of atmosphere would conjure up a picture in the mind of someone who cannot see to compel that person to take a shot?
What brush up against a surface of an object or a person might ignite the imagination of this blind photographer?
I am thinking that tonight I want to try just closing my eyes for a few moments when I am walking around Frenchmen street, when I am listening to the jazz music, when I am with my wife and friends to see if perhaps for a moment maybe I can see without seeing. Maybe the world will come in focus just a littler bit more. Maybe for a moment I will see with more clarity, with more wonder, with more imagination and passion. Maybe I will begin to see again what has been there all along that I have become to accustomed to to recognize.