A Photographer Not Without Vision
Andrew Follows is a photographer with a difference. He is legally blind due to a degenerative eye condition called Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). Andrew currently however still has minimal sight in his right eye. Although Andrew has less than ideal vision, photography has always been one of his interests. Andrew’s eyesight worsened dramatically four years ago. Instead of abandoning photography completely, Andrew's interest grew into a passion as a result. Photography is now a big part of Andrew's life and career. I had a chance to talk to Andrew and ask him a few questions about photography and his life.
Andrew is not dwelling on the fact that he has a degenerative condition. Instead he tells me he is “...taking as many photographs as (he) can before (his) vision is gone.” Having no sight at all may make it difficult for Andrew to appreciate his own photography. But even after Andrew loses all his sight he will “...still continue to take photos when my vision is gone completely.” Andrew finds that “It’s a challenge, and it also challenges others.”
Challenging others is what Andrew does best. He takes great joy in experiencing the reactions of people when they view his photographs. “People see my photography first, and once they know it was from a blind person they understand the wow factor in my images.”
Andrew uses quality cameras and lenses for his photographs, giving his photography a professional look and feel. Andrew told me of his computer program that allows him to analyse his photography. “Through using my computer I can see my images in detail. I look at what I have created in the form of colours, and observe all the wonders that sighed people see but take no real notice of what they are looking at.” Proving that sometimes you do not need perfect vision in order to see clearly.
Friends sometimes give Andrew insights into his photographs. “Every now and then, someone will point out something I’ve missed that is in a photo that I have taken. Such as a photo I thought was just of a boat, but sitting on the end of the boat was actually a tiny sea bird which I had not seen. This has given me much joy.”
The confidence Andrew has when venturing out and taking photographs can be attributed in part to his guide dog Eamon. Andrew has advice for those reluctant to follow their dreams – “If you have a passion for something you enjoy, then all I can say is to run with it. Take all the help you can get to enhance your passion. If you enjoy what you are doing you will be surprised at how many doors open up for you.”
“My photography has opened up my world to the visual arts scene where I have met some amazing people. These people are listening to what I am saying and are enjoying what I am producing.” Because of this, Andrew is trying to raise money in order to present a photographic exhibition in London. He also wishes to conduct learning workshops for other vision impaired and sighted photographers. Andrew is hoping to tap into the English network of vision impaired photographers to develop his craft and share some of his experiences. He wants to further the recognition and knowledge of talented vision impaired photographers.