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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Photographer seeking blind subjects

Hello all,

I am a photographer in New York City seeking volunteers for a new series. I am attempting to document the homes of the blind and the organizational systems they employ which allow them to find things, navigate the home, and use items generally designed for those with the ability to see. I am working on a series focused on overcoming challenges as well as an interest in exploring a "non-visual world through a visual medium".

I realize it's a bit of a long shot but I'm hoping to reach out to as many people as possible to find volunteers. Any help is greatly appreciated, i'm even willing to barter if you have anything in mind.

Homer Parkes

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Re: Photographer seeking blind subjects

Water coolers produce interesting conversations. My style may be different from somebody else's. Lots of people read these messages. Some are relatively trusting human beings. Others are, well, less so. Some of us blind folks want to be accepted so much by sighted folks that we take chances. I am particularly concerned that blind women may do so. Forgive me for being overcautious. Call it paranoid if you must. I am being as courteous as I can when writing this. Perhaps some of you will understand. If I offended anybody by being abrupt, my intent is honest.

Hope This is Helpful

Ok, first of all I want to appoligize for the rude/paranoid/trouble-making previous poster. I applaud you for having enough respect for blind people to reach out to them directly, instead of going through some "agency" or "organization". To the previous poster. Yes, it could be risky, but being blind doesn't make it any more risky than being sighted. A blind person can ask for cridentials, I.E. is the photographer affiliated with a university, a newspaper, a television station, or do they have references, I.E. other people they've photographed, such as wedding pictures, senior pictures, other event or news coverage or publicity pictures? You can have another person at your home when they arrive, or you could meet with this photographer in a nutral public location first before deciding whether or not to allow them into your home. But, shooting this down out of hand and having the audasity to suggest that others shun this person as well is really pathetic. How do you think journalism or photography or art students get material? They reach out to real people in their communities. Just a few weeks ago some photography students at my college asked to photograph my Seeing Eye dog. I said no problem. If I thought like you I'd have wondered "Are they going to put my dog on uTube? Are they going to use these pictures against me?" But, because I did not do and did not allow my dog to do anything that would discredit either of us, I had no problem taking this risk. Over the years I have had numerous news stories done on me, my mom, or both of us, and much of that interviewing, taping and photography took place in our home, and we didn't freak out and treat these people like potential rapests, robbers and criminals. We just acted like intelligent human beeings and did our background checks and were sensable. Simple as that. Good grief. No wonder people think blind people are negative, fearful, angry, deffensive jerks. *sighs wearily* I live in upstate New York, or I'd be happy to help you out. I am blind, have a blind mother and a blind son, so we have the 3-generation thing going on. My father is sighted and my husband is sighted, so I have a pretty balanced perspective. I wish I knew some people in NYC who could help you, if you haven't already given up on the project because of negative paranoid people like the above poster. I have just got to thank you for having the tact and common deascency to ask blind people themselves instead of going to AFB or NFB or ACB or a particular organization and taking their limited view on which cliants are worthy of your time. A hint, many compitant blind people have no need of and no affiliation with such organizations and so some of your best subjects might not even turn up by looking in that system. If you are lidgit, I do hope you find some good participants. If you had the budgit to travel I'd suggest you come and take pictures of my family. We are home owners, husband and I, and I am actually the one (I am totally blind) who does all of our decorating, I painted the living room this past December. And I am a very visual person, so utalizing that medium to portray a subject group typically seen as not having a visual context intreagues me. If I had a little more money, (we are both students and don't have a lot of funds to spare) I'd offer to pay your transpirtation fees, if only to make sure that some compitant, independent, interesting blind people with jobs, families, a purpose, goals, standards and real lives are portrayed in your endevor. Have a great day, and if I could be of any help to you at all, please feel free to email me at

Re: Photographer seeking blind subjects

As a blind person, I question the wisdom of letting some stranger into my house to photograph things. If you really are interested in doing the project you describe, I suggest you connect up with an organization of some type. Otherwise, asking folks, particularly blind ones, to let you into their homes is asking the blind person to take on a lot of personal risk.
You say you are in New York City. Fortunately, so is AFB.

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