“I am here on a photography assignment contracted by Rajasthan Tourism Board. I have to capture the essence of Rajasthan. I don’t have sight, as you already know by now. So, I use my sense of touch, smell and simply my heart to shoot. And, trust me, this is the most important universal element of photography that people often forget and concentrate their energies more on the gear and technicalities. I, on the other hand, simply stay in the moment. I capture when I feel something. It then doesn’t matter if I can see or not. My feeling guides me. And, of-course, I have some state-of-the-art gadgets to facilitate me finesse the art of photography like 3D printing, Braille instructed apps, etc”.
“Impressive indeed, Maddy. And, I am simply simple Tanvi”, she said resting her left palm under her left cheek and holding up her glass with the other hand gesturing ‘cheers’.
Maddy was a bright student who was pursuing his Fine Arts Masters degree from a reputed college in Mumbai when he was diagnosed with a severe eye ailment which would gradually make him blind. He had two years in hand before he would go completely blind. Naturally, he was depressed at the onset, blamed God and everybody else around for such injustice. Our society is not fair to people with disability. It was for the first time, a pampered rich boy from South Mumbai was experiencing differential treatment. He was a first class pass out but job was not easy to come especially when he honestly told about his forthcoming blindness. Employers made an excuse and denied him job. It was indeed a career ending injury.
One fine morning, he was reminded of John Milton, the great poet who had turned blind while at the peak of his career but he continued to write masterpieces and today his name is immortalized because of the body of work he has contributed, irrespective of his blindness.
“God doth not need either man’s work or his own gifts.
Who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best.
His state Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
Maddy was determined not to let his life slip away or fall prey to the shortcomings of life. He wanted to fight heads on. Maddy knew he must prepare well before he turns completely blind. He always wanted to be unique and this was his chance to prove his indomitable spirit. He expressed his desire to take up photography. His family was taken aback at this idea. Photography and blindness don’t go together. And, this was exactly the reason why Maddy wanted to pursue photography.
He sat in photography shops for hours, worked with them as free interns, and read books to pick up the nuances of photography. Meanwhile, he was moving from partial blindness to complete blindness. Initially, he would click pictures and then wait for his sighted friends to give him feedback. Friends who were enthusiastic and cooperative initially, soon made excuses. There was too much dependency in this process. Maddy was getting restless. When you click a picture you want to know it and if it is not good enough you click again; same moment, same picture. Maddy had to find a solution. He researched for long and finally found two useful things that supported his passion for photography.
One was an app that would translate the picture to him in Braille, especially the basic adjustment specifications like depth, focus, shutter speed, exposure, and direction of light. This came in handy to add finesse to the click. Secondly, he got a 3D printer that lets him feel the picture and he knows what he has clicked. Both together became him real-time assistants and he braved ahead on the path of photography.
Maddy started weaving magic with his camera. His pictures were like paintings. Masters in Fine Arts helped him thoroughly. Fame followed soon. He was hailed as a prodigy. However, he believes it was the awe of contrast that worked in his favour – a blind man clicking that sold like hotcakes. Tanvi saw a few of pictures that Maddy had clicked and surely, Maddy was being humble. He was an ace photographer. Alongwith it, he was a fearless man – A man who lived in the moment with no regrets about the past and no planning for the future. And, this is what makes him an inspiring person.
Hats off to the blind photographer!
Read the previous post here – Chapter 27 – Relaxing With Rajasthani Folk Music at Laxmi Niwas Palace, Biakner
Read the next post here – Chapter 29 – Inspiring and Fantastico Story of Gulabo Sapera, the Kalbelia Dancer