The five-year-old Blind With Camera project has trained 120 visually impaired students from across the country. The photo exhibition, The View From Here, showcases stunning images captured without a viewfinder

People usually take to photography to capture memories of a place, event or emotion forever. For those who take their passion beyond click-happy adventures, photography becomes a mode of artistic expression. But if you think that photography is associated only with sight, the exhibition titled The View From Here will certainly change your opinion.

Thakur took this picture when he got confused after hearing the sound
of the cycle coming from the sea

The exhibition includes a collection of photographs clicked by visually impaired photographers, who have been trained under the Blind With Camera project. Started in 2006 by Partho Bhowmick, the project aims to enable the visually impaired to take their own pictures and help them establish a mode of creative expression through the pictures.

Photography enthusiast Partho Bhowmick with one of his students during
a workshop; The view of Bandstand and the Worli skyline captured by
Ravi Thakur, who works with the National Association for the Blind (NAB)

Bhowmick, a photography enthusiast, started with just one student and now has around 120 students from Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Bangalore, who have established the fact that photographs are not just created with sight but also in the mind.

This photograph was taken by one of the students from Sankara Eye
Hospital in Bangalore

"I start by talking to the person and understanding his capacity of visual description by questions as simple as describe your living room. There are those who are partially blind, those who have gradually lost their sight and ones who are blind from birth. It is a different process with each one of them," says Bhowmick.

The result too differs. The ones with partial sight take pictures like any normal person would, those who have gradually lost their sight depend on the memories of what they had seen whereas the ones who were born without sight bring out an entirely new perspective in their pictures clicked on the basis of touch and sound.

The duration of his workshop is 48 hours, which spans over a few months. After his initial talk, the students go out and take pictures first with Bhowmick's help and later on, on their own. "Almost 30% of my students can now click pictures independently," he adds.

One of the main objectives of Blind With Camera is to make art accessible to the visually impaired. Out of the 57 pictures displayed at the exhibition, 22 have been made accessible to the blind through touch and feel, of images with raised patterns.

Also, every picture has a large print for those with partial sight, an audio description and a Braille note. "In many of the museums in Europe, art is accessible to the visually impaired. My next step would be to make that happen in our country by approaching the government and various museums," says Bhowmick, who feels that visually-challenged individuals also deserve equal status in every aspect of their social life.

Till: October 8, 10 am to 7 pm
At: Gallery Art and Soul, 1, Madhuli, Shivsagar Estate, Worli. 
Call: 9821474731
Visitors can take part in the blindfold photography workshop conducted by the visually impaired photographers and watch Dark Light, a film on international blind photographers and Iranian film Seven Blind Female Film makers. The photographs are on sale and the proceeds will go to the photographers.