Aug. 28, 2014

Australian-based photographer Brendon Borellini sees and feels the world different than most of us. Borellini was born with congenital deafness and partial blindness, which later developed into complete blindness, but that hasn't stopped him from doing what he loves: to become a photographer.

Photography is a special way for Borellini to "see" the world. When he was young, being disabled was frustrating for him. He couldn't hear the world around him and he didn't know what was happening. He struggled to overcome them all. But he learned a great deal about the world with the help from the Special Education Unit at the Cavendish Road State School in Brisbane. And later he became the first deaf and blind student to graduate and head on to college. His accomplishments won him the 1989 Australian of the Year award.

After moving from Brisbane to Mackay he met his friend Steve Mayer-Miller, the artistic director of Crossroads Arts, an organization that helps those with disabilities make changes in their life through the arts. Mayer-Miller decided to help Borellini.

It started out as a joke, as mentioned in the video below, with Borellini picking up a camera and snapping shots throughout the day. Mayer-Miller found it a good beginning to explore photography together with Borellini. He showed Borellini how the buttons of the camera works and what they do, Borellini quickly learned how to use it and began taking some photos.

You're probably thinking to yourself that how Borellini 'sees' the subjects and takes all the photos. While we normally focus on what our eyes see, Borellini relies on his feeling: he must feel for the image. He moves his fingers over different settings, and feel the lens adjusting, he touches things, he senses his surroundings, and sees rocks and sea in a different way than most of us. He only needs help guiding the camera in the right direction while he takes photos.

So "What is Borellini seeing?" At the beginning he could only send his photos for others to see and got feedback from them via a device that convert text to braille.

This led to a few research projects that attempted to find a device to turn his 2D photographs into 3D photographs, so he would be able to at least 'interpret' the textures in those photos, said Mayer-Miller.

With the help of a special printer, Mayer-Miller was able to turn his 2D photographs into 3D topographical prints. The texture of the image gives Brenden a chance to see the image in a very different way.

"I can recognize the elements of the image. I think it is very impressive to be able to feel the photos I have taken." states Borellini in the video.

Brenden can now feel his photographs, learning about photography technique like composition, light, shutter effect and depth, as he progresses. The process is not about how beautiful these photos are, it is more about the experience of taking the photograph, helping break Brenden feelings of isolation and getting him connected with the society.

Watch the short video below the inspiring story of 'the blind photographer':

Source: ABC Open

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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