A photographer who can't see, much less see what he's photographing? Sounds kind of oxymoron-ish, like "deaf musician." Then again, deafness didn't stop Beethoven — or more recently, percussionist Evelyn Glennie. And, thanks to some creative smartphone usage, it's not stopping professional photographer Alex Dejong, who lost his sight three years ago due to a brain tumor.
Dejong's tools include a Nokia N82 cellphone with assistive software to translate sounds into visuals in his mind. Once that's done, he uses "traditional" digital cameras to snap the scene. However, up until recently Dejong needed a human assistant to edit and color-correct his shots.
Enter the iPhone, and specifically its VoiceOver feature (which reads back anything a user places his or her finger over). That, plus automated postproduction tools like CameraBag and Tilt-Shift, returned control of the entire workflow to Dejong. (Examples of his work can be seen on his Flickr page.)
Dejong is one of a growing number of visually-impaired photographers using technology in general — and smartphones in particular — to continue their visual creativity. And while Dejong is quick to admit that the iPhone's built-in camera pales by comparison to his Canon and Leica digicams, he adds ‚ÄúEven if I don‚Äôt see the output myself, I still want to have my hand in everything that I do as a photographer.‚Äù