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Blind Photo Challenge Illuminates Art Form



At first glance, blind photography may seem like a contradiction. Since early spring, Tony Deifell has been touring the nation to promote his book "Seeing Beyond Sight" and his interactive Web site

www.seeingbeyondsight.org.

Many of the book's pictures look like an accident or break from the traditional conventions of photography. Some shots are too high and cut off a person's head; others may be too low and capture only the subject's feet.

However, Deifell says that by thexof his five years of teaching students photography at the Governor Morehead School for the Blind in North Carolina, the students began to teach him lessons.

At the time, Deifell was an accomplished photojournalist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A fear of losing his own sight made him curious about just how a blind person would go about taking pictures.

The most influential photograph for Deifell was a picture of cracks in the sidewalk taken by former student Leuwynda Forbes. Deifell says he would have paid the picture no mind had he not been shown its deeper meaning.

"When Leuwynda came back with pictures of the sidewalk, I thought it was too low, that she intended on shooting a friend or a tree or something. I started to put it to the side, and she said, 'No! No! No! No!'"

So Forbes wrote a letter to the school's superintendent:

"Dear Dr. Breitweiser," Deifell paraphrases. "Since you have the privilege of sight, you probably walk on these cracks every day and don't notice it, but for me, my cane gets stuck. It's a problem. Wheelchairs run off that sidewalk. And here are pictures as proof of the damage. Would you fix them, please?"

There are cracks, or blind spots, Deifell contends, that each of us cannot see because of our privilege, whether that be privilege of sight or "racial, economic or gender cracks that people walk on every day and take for granted."

"We see the world because of the multiple and diverse ways that people around us see the world -- that's the only way we can have a full picture of the world."

As part of the Web site, an interactive challenge invites people to blindfold themselves, take pictures and then post the results.

Locals can get involved by attending a free blind photography challenge at 10 a.m. Saturday on the northwest side of Memorial Park.

details

Working with Artists hosts free blind photography challenge

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Where: Meet at East Pikes Peak and Hancock avenues, near the Fallen Firefighters Memorial. Look for the Working with Artists banner.

What to bring: A digital camera (a few will be available to borrow)

What's next: Photos from the challenge, in which participants will be asked to shoot blindfolded, will be showcased at an event with the book's author at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Tattered Cover Book Store, 1628 16th St., Denver.


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