PLGRM presents ‘The Blind Photographer’

Scott Bradshaw. 'Andrew Follows. The Blind Photographer' 2015

Scott Bradshaw
Andrew Follows. The Blind Photographer
2015

 

Blind photographer; it’s an oxymoron. To interpret the chaos of the world and reconstruct it through the barrel of a lens is intimidating even to the fully sighted. Now imagine 90% of your vision disappearing. Seem like an impossibly daunting task? Try telling that to Andrew Follows.

Legally blind his entire life, Andrew gained a new lease on life in 2008 when he picked up his first “pocket rocket” – a term he has coined for your standard consumer point and shoot camera. In a world where analogue fetishism disregards technology as cold and isolating, digital photography gave Andrew a lens through which he could finally see the big picture.

Meeting Andrew is a revelation. There is no pretension when he speaks of his passion, simply warmth. Despite being exhibited in cities such as Paris, Edinburgh and Luxembourg, Andrew is open to discussing his techniques and working methods. “[Photographers] don’t like to share. They’re very protective on how they take their photographs. With me I just want to show everyone”.

Andrew uses his incredible story to inspire others. He runs a series of workshops inclusive to both the impaired and fully able, to break stigmas and mentalities of what a blind person can and can’t do.

Behind the camera he is confident and decisive. In front of it he is bashful, shy and almost embarrassed. Perhaps as a way to acclimatise to the situation, Andrew immediately directs our photographer. “Open the windows, you’ll get more light… Maybe you could take a photo in the mirror… I think this room would be best for this photograph”.

Andrew refuses to be defined by his condition. He is a photographer above anything else.

“It’ll look better this way. Trust me,” says the blind man.

Andy McCallum

 

Scott Bradshaw. 'Untitled (Portrait of Andrew Follows)' 2015

Scott Bradshaw
Untitled (Portrait of Andrew Follows)
2015

 

My eye condition is called retinitis pigmentosa. It’s an eye disease that affects people differently. So in my case there’s no vision in my left eye and tunnel vision in my right eye. The tunnel would be about the size of a 20 cent piece. I’ve always had it.

Is your eyesight deteriorating?
Yes. Slowly.

Will it ever fully go?
Yeah.

Do you have any idea how long until that happens?
No.

Isn’t that scary?
… Yeah.

 

Scott Bradshaw. 'Untitled (Andrew in front of his computer screens)' 2015

Scott Bradshaw
Untitled (Andrew in front of his computer screens)
2015

 

“If we didn’t have digital we would still have film and I wouldn’t be getting anywhere… It was because you could take the card out and put it though the TV or the computer and all of a sudden I was seeing a lot more than a normal film print. I could magnify it. I started to see more detail; more shapes, more colours, more textures. The camera is my eyes!”

 

Scott Bradshaw. 'Untitled (Andrew in front of his computer screens)' 2015

Scott Bradshaw
Untitled (Andrew in front of his computer screens)
2015

 

“That’s the reason I do the workshops. A – to show the mainstream what it’s like to be a visually impaired photographer through simulator glasses. And for low vision people it’s to show them that you can use the cameras at all. To see the world that they can’t see, just by taking the photo and putting it through the computer.”

 

Scott Bradshaw. 'Untitled (Andrew in front a work from his series 'Night Oceans' 2012 )' 2015

Scott Bradshaw
Untitled (Andrew in front a work from his series ‘Night Oceans’ 2012 )
2015

 

I have a natural eye for photography.

Even though you only have 10% of your vision?

As far as I’m concerned I’m getting there. I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’ve accomplished in the 8 years I’ve been doing this, what usually takes 10-15 years to do. I’m just scratching the surface… A lot of people just sit at home and wait for the world to come to them.

 

LIKE ANDREW FOLLOWS PHOTOGRAPHER ON FACEBOOK

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Missing You II

Andrew Follows. 'Missing You II' 2015'

Andrew Follows
Missing You II
2015
Digital photograph
[Please click on the image for a larger version]

 

“You know, it is great to see how he is challenging himself. But as soon as I saw the image, I couldn’t help but think that I was interested in how he saw the world – not how well he can compensate for his eyesight issues.

That’s what was great about those first images you curated Marcus [Density 2013]. In some of them, Andrew won against the world in his own way – not every image, but in some of them. But I suppose to actually explore his own presence in a site – the validity of his own perception is a really, really difficult thing – is there a precedence for limitations visually? Grandma Moses? maybe Ralph Eugene Meatyard in terms of his limited lifespan?

To achieve the creation of his own standards against a medium that will record everything – huge challenge.”

Ian Lobb, photographer

 

Liminality

In places

The spatial dimension of liminality can include specific places, larger zones or areas, or entire countries and larger regions. Liminal places can range from borders and frontiers to no man’s lands and disputed territories, to crossroads to perhaps airports or hotels, which people pass through but do not live in: arguably indeed all ‘romantic travel enacts the three stages that characterize liminality: separation, marginalization, and reaggregation’. In mythology and religion or esoteric lore liminality can include such realms as Purgatory or Da’at, which, as well as signifying liminality, some theologians deny actually existing, making them, in some cases, doubly liminal. “Between-ness” defines these spaces. For a hotel worker (an insider) or a person passing by with disinterest (a total outsider), the hotel would have a very different connotation. To a traveller staying there, the hotel would function as a liminal zone, just as ‘doors and windows and hallways and gates frame…the definitively liminal condition’.

More conventionally, springs, caves, shores, rivers, volcanic calderas – ‘a huge crater of an extinct volcano…[as] another symbol of transcendence’ – fords, passes, crossroads, bridges, and marshes are all liminal: ‘”edges”, borders or faultlines between the legitimate and the illegitimate’. Oedipus (an adoptee and therefore liminal) met his father at the crossroads and killed him; the bluesman Robert Johnson met the devil at the crossroads, where he is said to have sold his soul. Major transformations occur at crossroads and other liminal places, at least partly because liminality – being so unstable – can pave the way for access to esoteric knowledge or understanding of both sides. Liminality is sacred, alluring, and dangerous.

Text from the Wikipedia website.

Soulstice

I am the beginning of the end,
the end of every place.
I am the beginning of eternity,
the end of time and space.

 

Andrew Follows. 'Soulstice I' 2015


Andrew Follows

Soulstice I
2015

Andrew Follows. 'Soulstice II' 2015


Andrew Follows

Soulstice II
2015

Andrew Follows. 'Soulstice III' 2015


Andrew Follows

Soulstice III
2015

 

Stories Of You Podcast

A new episode of Stories Of You is here…

Andrew Follows is a professional photographer with a difference. His vision condition, retinitis pigmentosa, renders him legally blind. Andrew’s ability to overcome the hurdles presented to him as a blind photographer makes for an engaging, fascinating and inspirational story.

This podcast was recorded 2012 before I headed to Scotland and went to air on 3CR. Glen who is blind is a great reporter / story teller.
 

Interview With A Photographer – Who Has A Guide Dog

with Glen Morrow

 

Fifth Annual Exposure Photography Awards presented by See | Me

In the next few weeks I will be receiving a Thank You Package for participating in The Exposure Awards. I will also receive a letter of recognition for participation in the Digital Display at the Louvre in Paris on July 13th 2015.

Thank you to everyone who voted on my images for the Exposure Awards.

Very proud and humble but how cool is that.

More information on the awards can be found on the Exposure Awards website.

Andrew

 

Andrew Follows. 'Elevation, Doreen' 2013

 

Andrew Follows
Elevation, Doreen
2013
Digital photograph on archival cotton rag
130 cm x 86.5 cm

 

June 2015: Launch of new website

Dear friends

It is with great happiness and delight that I launch my new website.

With a fresh look and feel, I hope that the photographs I take of the world around me will delight you even more in this new format. The images are displayed at a larger size and look really splendid in the page layout.

Many thanks to my friend Marcus Bunyan for making me this excellent website based on a WordPress theme. His generosity in making the site will further help promote my work, making my images even more professional and accessible. A big thank you indeed.

Enjoy!

Andrew Follows
June 2015

 

Andrew Follows. 'City laneway, Melbourne' 2015


Andrew Follows

City laneway, Melbourne
2015
Digital photograph

Andrew Follows. 'Sunset, Lakes Entrance' 2015


Andrew Follows

Sunset, Lakes Entrance
2015
Digital photograph

Andrew Follows. 'Darkness descends' 2015


Andrew Follows

Darkness descends
2015
Digital photograph

Andrew Follows. 'Untitled' from the series 'Ice and Fire' 2014


Andrew Follows

Untitled
2014
From the series Fire and Ice
Digital photograph

 

February – May 2015 news

A few new images Andrew has captured over the last few months are featured at the bottom of the posting.

Sensory Experience

Andrew was invited to be part of the Culture Victoria Sensory Experience, a series of short films on blind and deaf artists.
The mainstream understanding of deaf and blind people has shifted over time. When once it was thought that blind people should be taken care of and sheltered, or deaf people taught to hear and speak, a deeper awareness of distinct culture and experience has emerged.

Sensory Experience explores the world through the eyes and ears of the deaf and blind communities in Victoria and seeks to demystify some of the stereotypes and preconceptions that survive to this day. The four films that make up part of this story highlight Victoria’s Deaf and blind communities within an historical framework, fostering new insights and provoking thought about the way we understand these communities today. Each film is an open invitation to share the experience of the world from another perspective.

Hidden From Sight

The blind community in Victoria is an independent, progressive and highly motivated group of individuals that spans all ages. Organisations such as Vision Australia seek to empower individuals who are blind or have low vision to participate in life within the mainstream world in any way they choose.

Incredible advances in technology have meant that there has never been more information freely available to everyone, however people who are blind or have low vision can only access around five percent of everything that is published. We have the technology, what is holding us back?

Hidden From Sight explores Accessibility, Technology and Advocacy through the experiences of three individuals who are blind or have low vision.

In recognition of Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

 

Andrew is proud to take part in a new International exhibition on behalf of the Mirca Art Group to be held in Sweden in August.

Show date: 29 Aug 2015 – 24 Oct 2015.
Location: Ostra Gymnasiet, Skogas, Sweden.

 

Andrew Follows. 'Reflection, Melbourne' 2015

Andrew Follows
Reflection, Melbourne
2015

Andrew Follows. 'Reflection, Melbourne' 2015

Andrew Follows
Reflection, Melbourne
2015

Andrew Follows. 'City laneway, Melbourne' 2015

Andrew Follows
City laneway, Melbourne
2015

Andrew Follows. 'Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne' 2015

Andrew Follows
Shrine of Remembrance, Melbourne
2015