October 10, 2016
Photography is the process of getting an impression (graph) of light (photo) on a sensitized surface. Being an art form, it hugely involves the perception of light and the creative use of it by a photographer. Apparently, it is the keen sight of a person, which makes him/her an ace photographer. Until, someone proved it completely wrong. Imagine a blind photographer whose works stand on solid ground in the realm of contemporary art.
Pete Eckert lost his vision at the age of 28. His blindness made him turn to photography as a mean to capture and exhibit the “dark world” of blind people. His photographs have received the well-deserved recognition all over the world and many awards. His most favourite being the first position in the 2008 “Exposure” by Artist Wanted in New York.
Pete was a trained sculpture and industrial designer. He was working as a successful carpenter and was planning to study architecture at Yale University. It was during this time that Pete started losing his sight and was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, an incurable eye disease. This was a huge blow to his dreams and slowly his flourishing career as a first-rate carpenter started to hit the wall. He somehow managing to pay only for food and rent. After a few years of struggle and the constant support of his wife Amy, he was able to get a MBA degree. He also leaned martial arts for self-protection where he earned a black belt. However, his problems has just begun. By this time, he had almost completely lost his sight. He was just able to read with whatever vision he had left. He applied for jobs but got rejected despite having good grades and an amiable personality. It did not take him long to figure out that it was due to his condition. When government aided jobs also failed, he decided to move on and pursued a career as a martial art trainer.
Pete soon started to practice art again. It was his love and he always wanted to take that love out of the hobbyist’s hermit. He started doing woodcuts and got himself a wood lathe, which also failed to earn him a living. He moved to making wooden clocks, but it also resulted in a slow profit venture. He was frustrated and broke, but did not give up hope.
One day while cleaning, he found his late mother-in-law’s camera in a drawer and was instantly hooked by it. He had never used a manual/film camera and hardly had any knowledge about them. Nevertheless, the camera fascinated him and he began his journey as a photographer by learning as much as he could about cameras and photography at a local camera shop. Then he started to learn from books and finally got a computer that could read books to the blind. Pete got hold of two basic medium format film cameras and started taking them with him during his nightly excursions. He started experimenting with multiple exposure photography and soon was able to create his own style of mastering the intricate art.
Though Pete Eckert’s past artistic ventures influences his photographs to a large extend, but it takes unthinkable mount of dedication and hard work for a blind person to excel in a field as visually challenging as photography. However, Pete has proved it possible.
Pete Eckert opines that he is a mere “tourist in the sighted world”. He tries to portray the realm of the blind to the sighted world, which is still apprehensive about people with blindness. Pete has proved that visual art does not necessarily requires eyesight but involves one’s vision. He gives hope to the blind and raises the bar for those with vision. Pete has turned his disability into a super-ability, which rings a paradox: we, the ones with sight, are actually blind.
This is a tribute to the eminent photographer, Pete Eckert from the Team MyEProfile.