“It’s all in the mind, and my mind is beautiful”
Maritza González is a visually impaired photographer, a ‘blind photographer’ if you may. Although upon hearing the term ‘blind photography’ one immediately thinks oxymoron, surely? If, as photographer India Rose Farman advised me, you perceive the camera as an extension of the body, or if you consider photography simply as capturing a moment perceived, then this view makes a lot of sense.
‘Ojos que Sienten’ (Sight of Emotion, or literally ‘eyes that feel’) is the Mexican organization that teaches the art of photography to visually impaired creatives. They call the process ‘sensual photography’. Photography is not only about capturing something visual. It includes emotions, smells, textures and sounds which all lead us to the desire to document.
There is a history behind each photograph which is dependent on the photographer’s experience, perception and manner. “We all see things using the mind. In perceiving what surrounds you, you create images” González explains. Maritza sees the beauty in neither searching for nor straining to create a preconceived image. She never has to ask her subject to smile more, to change a pose to portray a specific desired emotion.
She recounts “When I began taking photos, I felt that I crossed a barrier and could transcend the darkness. When I take a photo, I feel I can see what I’m capturing, I feel the emotion that leads me to photograph this person, this portrait. It’s something really beautiful, it frees me from the darkness.”
Visually-impaired photography not only provides an extremely interesting viewing process, with a story to discover and interpret yourself, but also allows for a much more sensual and sensitive relationship, or simply moment, between the photographer and their subject. In comparison to the senseless snapping of young millennials documenting what we eat, what we see, what we hear in 10 selfies each scene is averted, as each photo has meaning. Without visual desire there is little reason to take ten images of the same moment. The click of the camera signifies that the photo is captured. Punto.
Photography also serves as a way to return the gaze, to be seen and to be heard. These photographers subvert the assumption that photography is simply a visual act. They are united by their imaginative perception of the world around them, unconstrained by ‘actual’ vision. For Naivi Luis Calona, who feels and lives texture and perceives shadow and light to understand the world in a distinct way, photography is her way of sharing her vision with her children.
Keep up to date with Bristolatino on Facebook , Instagram and Twitter so you don’t miss Jade Jackman and Mariel Baquiero’s short creative documentary of their stay with these inspiring photographers in Mexico City, funded by One World Media.
Photos: Jade Jackman