Never Seen: My Introduction to Blind Photography

The image shows a woman with shoulder length dark hair that is tied back in a ponytail taking a photograph

For the past few months I’ve been involved in a project introducing photography to the blind youth community in Cape Town. Over the next few weeks I’m going to share a little about that project with you, because it’s been so much fun.

If you’re anything like me, the idea of blind photography may seem a little strange to you. Photography is such a purely visual thing. Or, at least, that’s what most people seem to think. I know I used to run a website where I shared some of my own street photography. I also know I regularly take photos when I travel. But somehow, the idea of a blind or partially blind person taking photos as an artistic form just never occurred to me.

That was what I believed until recently. But now that’s changed, thanks to a journey I’ve been travelling recently. Here’s how it all began…

One day a little over a year ago a South African professional photographer named Karren Visser walked into a camera shop in the UK. The guy who was assisting her happened to also be a South African – a friend of mine named Francois. Karren mentioned that she is partially blind. Which is when they somehow worked out that they both knew me. Admittedly, Karren only knew of me, having connected to my Facebook page, though we had never actually engaged. So Francois introduced us and Karren and I started to chat.

We discovered we had similar views on blindness and the challenges faced by persons with disabilities when it comes to inclusion into different aspects of society. Then Karren suggested the possibility of working together on a proposal for a funded arts project with participants from the South African blind youth community, exploring blind photography. And I leapt at the chance!

It was my first experience of applying for funding to work on a project. I was startled by the amount of work that needs to go into such a proposal. As part of the preparation, Karren and I began exploring what the project might look like and who we might bring on board.

I had previously worked with Nurjawaan Rawoot, the Chairperson of the South African Blind Youth Organisation (SABYO) in the Western Cape and we decided to approach her as a possible partner. With her input, we added Charlie Dyasi, Grant Baiman and Elizabeth Maphike-Kok to the team.

The final member of the project team was Wojciech Wolocznik, the sole fully sighted person on the team. Wojciech’s role was to assist us with the visual aspects of the project.

WE were thrilled to learn that our proposal was successful, and that Never Seen was to be funded as a research project by British Council Sub-Saharan African Arts.

Before I tell you more about what happened on Never Seen, I’d encourage you to take a look at Karren’s work at

Next time I’ll tell you about the first phase of the project – a still life photography workshop that was run online.

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