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Seeing Beyond Sight: Photographs by Blind Teenagers Hardcover – April 16, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1992 Deifell started a photography club at North Carolina's Governor Morehead School for the Blind. From three students, the club burgeoned into a class entitled "Sound Shadows." Culling from the teenage students' photos during his five years at the school, Deifell mounts an impressive showcase in chapters--"Distortion," "Refraction," "Reflection," "Transparence," and "Illuminance"--whose titles he explains in the introduction. Ranging in degree of blindness from low vision to light perception to no vision, the students used point-and-shoot cameras and, as "Sound Shadows" suggests, aural and other sensory cues to find subjects. Reason and fancy played large parts, too. To photograph the wind, a 13-year-old shot leaves scattered on the ground. One girl's first picture was an act of protest; she shot a badly cracked campus sidewalk and sent the image to the superintendent. For a self-portrait, another 13-year-old shot her reflection in a car's passenger-side mirror. Some illustrated dreams and fears very effectively. All made vigorous and moving "this is my world" pictures. Not a few made high-order "art" photos. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

Tony Deifell is a San Francisco-based visual artist and social entrepreneur. He taught photography for five years at a school for the blind in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (April 16, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811853497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811853491
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,418,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tony Deifell is a visual artist and social entrepreneur. He has spent over a decade creating youth-generated media projects, including From the Hip, Youth Voice Radio, and ISM, which was recognized by the White House as a national model of diversity education. He is Chief Strategist for KaBOOM!, advises film and television projects, and continues to develop participatory media-making productions, including wdydwyd? (http://www.wdydwyd.com). Tony was an artist-in-residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts, taught documentary studies at Duke University, and was a national leadership fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He taught photography at Governor Morehead School for the Blind from 1992 to 1997. He lives in San Francisco.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book is a gem. It's a reminder that perception is so much more than sight and that seeing is a way of engagement with the world rather than simply looking.

As the photographs unfold, they take you on a journey into what is relevant in the photographers' lives; how light and dark play as guides; how cracks in the pavement interrupt; how what some take for granted, others are denied. The photos open up new ways of seeing and understanding our environment and the spectrum of people who interact with it.

Deifell's sensitive and thoughtful text gives a further dimension to the book, gently provoking the reader to examine how they see others, and how they see themselves.

Highly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading Seeing Beyond Sight, and it is both about blindness and much more. My work for almost twenty years has been helping blind people, and the idea that visually people take photographs is not to me foreign at all. A significant number of blind people are low vision, and photographs can be a way to visually see things that their eyes don't show them. Some of the students in this book fall into this group where photos become an aid.

But, most of the photographers in Tony Deifell's book cannot see the photographs they are taking. Yet, they get tremendous value out of them. Just like sighted people, the students proudly show their photos around to other people. Becoming a photographer unlocks the voice of still others. One photo becomes a tool for advocacy, as in fix this crack in the sidewalk that catches my white cane!

I was surprised and delighted with the both the book and the photos. So much of taking great pictures is seeing things from a new perspective, and I learned that that's definitely in the cards when blind students take pictures.
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Format: Hardcover
For some time now I've had a theory that photography is not about the sense of sight but rather the sense of awareness. Good photography is not about rules and technical know-how, good photography is about revealing hidden truths and realities, relationships between subject and photographer and viewer. Twenty-twenty vision may help you make beautiful images but without a sense of awareness the images will be just that, pretty. They will be shallow, devoid of truths and feelings and worst of all, without a story.

When you read "Seeing Beyond Sight: Photographs by Blind Teenagers" or visit the web site ([...]) you can't help but question the need for sight to make photographs. The author Tony Deifell explains that while the young photographers may not be able to see light they can feel the heat due to the light. They are aware of it's presence.

"I was thinking that it would be sort of hard for a blind person to take pictures, but it's not very hard. You've just got to listen." (John V., student, page 48 of Seeing Beyond Sight).

The photographs taken by these young people tell a story about their relationships between themselves and the world and their connection to it. They help us connect the inside to the outside and that is a powerful message. I've often questioned the difficulty of determining where we end and where the outside world begins. After looking at these photographs you get the feeling that there is no separation.

For me, these young photographers have proven my theory and taken it beyond the original premise. Photography is not about the sense of sight, it's beyond sight, it's about what we are, it's about being, it's about awareness... It's about being awareness itself.
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Format: Hardcover
I saw this book at a design conference I went to. It brought tears to my eyes. The images are powerful and the stories about the students are moving. One reason the book moved me so much is I am an artist who is at high risk of one day going blind. I always feared that going blind would end my career as a photographer and designer. This book made me rethink my roll as an artist and it encouraged me not to fear going blind. Plus I gave the book to my mom who is legally blind for Christmas. She pointed at a few of the pictures and said "That is how I see. I can't believe it. This is the most amazing gift." It is inspiring and beautiful. I have never come across a book that has spoke so dearly to my own experience. I am so grateful that I stumbled across this treasure.
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