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Sight Unseen – Photography by the Blind

Sight Unseen Exhibit

Sight Unseen, at the California Museum of Photography, is on view through August 29th. This astounding exhibit, curated by Douglas McCulloh, stays with you long after you leave the museum. The images are bold, fresh, honest, powerful and gritty. The fact that they are all created by blind photographers presents an initial feeling of astonishment, giving way to humility by the time you reach the end. I encourage you to read/listen to the essay (yes, logically, an audio of the essay is available) on the CMP’s website. It provides a concise summary of the exhibit better than I can.

Two main questions bounced off the walls of my brain. First, “how did they do that?” I was curious about how the photographer knew what f stop and aperture to use, how to focus, and how they knew when to release the shutter if they could not see the subject?

Second, why? Why do they choose to make photographs if they cannot see the results? The payoff for a sighted photographer is the accomplishment of seeing and sharing the finished product. If a photographer is blind, and cannot experience the outcome, what is the payoff?

The intrigue was so strong, I called Douglas McCulloh to get the answers. He explained that there is special equipment such as light meters that work by sound, focus rails with notches, and measuring devices that speak. Many of the photographers have modified their equipment to their individual needs.

As for the reason why, it is a matter of sharing the images inside their minds. These artists have a running movie of rich imagery they feel compelled to share with us. I must say, its quite a film.

California Museum of Photography – open Tu-Sat, 12-5

3824 Main St
Riverside, CA 92501
(951) 827-4787

by Gina Genis


About Gina Genis

Hi Friends, I'm a photographer and artist who lives in Washington DC. I have two blogs. The Gina Genis Blog is about art and photography. My new blog, DC Discoveries is dedicated to showing you everything from fashion to art, food to entertainment in all sections of the District. I hope you will take the journey with me. I exhibit my work in museums and galleries across the U.S. I'm included in the permanent collections of the Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, the Otto G. Richter Library Special Collections Division of the University of Miami, Hard Rock Casino, Orange County Transit District, IBM, and the Sarah and Adam Markman Collection among others. My series "Window Peeping" was included in OsCene 2010 at the Laguna Art Museum, Truman State University, Fellows of Contemporary Art, Biola University, and solo shows at Gallery 825 and Cypress College. The "June Gloom" series was exhibited in a solo show at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The "Kala" series has been exhibited at MPLS Photo Center, Cypress College, and Gallery 825. "Economy Portraits" was created as an Artist In Residence project at the Huntington Beach Art Center, and was awarded "Best Art Show of 2011" by the OC Weekly. I curated Wide Angle View, an exhibit of 16 international, award-winning photo and multi-media journalists at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art to much critical acclaim. Recent reviews of my work have appeared in the Huffington Post, Art Scene, OC Weekly, Orange County Register, New University, Riviera Magazine, Coast Magazine, Huntington Beach Independent, and appeared on CNN, NBC, ABC, and more. I lead the Gina Genis Photo Workshops where I show beginning and intermediate photographers how to jump to the next level with their work. I also teach online photography courses through The Compelling Image.

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