Condition: Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) type 2
1. What is your profession and why did you decide to choose this field?
I have always been a creative person from a young age, being born profoundly deaf led me to drawing and painting in my isolated world. I was diagnosed aged 15 with RP Type 2 (Deaf & Blind) the shock of hearing this news would leave fear and panic with me for the rest of my life and I knew that I wanted to capture and see as much as possible before the dark curtains drew for good. Being 95% blind I decided to take up photography in 2009 as a hobby which slowly turned into something I could have never imagined, it has led me to do a TEDx Talk and work with a casting agency called Zebedee Management, an agency that takes on talented people who have disabilities, fighting for equal opportunities in the commercial world. Photography has helped and challenged me to face up to my blindness and tackling and dealing with society's perception of blind people. It is getting better, but we have a long way to go yet and being a photographer has and is continuing to dismantle and break down the old stereotype that I am constantly up against in today's "modern" world.
2. What is the most rewarding thing about what you do?
There are many rewarding aspects of doing photography, the feeling that you are participating in the world, connecting with people, and sharing my disabilities with confidence, which took a long time to do, as for many years I was ashamed and embarrassed by my blindness. Having spent a decade dedicating myself to photography, teaching myself, making mistakes, and practicing, to be able to inspire new blind photographers is awesome! Blindness and photography together have enabled me to exhibit locally in Essex and in London showcasing my work and talking openly about being blind and meeting other people and artists along the way. The camera has certainly opened a world that I had never expected to see.
3. What is your advice to all the other VIP around the world who don't believe they can be successful in the area of their interest because of their disability?
We as partially, severely, or totally blind people have monumental challenges on a daily basis from the moment we wake up, till the time we go to bed. The advice I tell myself every day is to get started, even if it is a small step, as all the small steps will amount to an achievement you wanted to pursue, whether it be taking a computer course at college, learning to crochet, taking photos or cooking that special meal for someone!
Allow yourself to rest, allow yourself to be frustrated, allow yourself to be down, you are allowed to feel these emotions. Work at your own speed and create a manageable environment for you to excel and be confident in. Surround yourself with the right supportive people who understand, but always take that first step, you never know where it could lead to. Accept the defeats and the mistakes, use, and learn from them, evolution comes from solutions. If you don't ask, you don't get! YOU CAN DO THIS!