'A different me seeing the world': Blind photographer to publish book of pictures

  
Via:  Buzz of the Orient  •  7 months ago  •  20 comments

By:   Avis Favaro and Cillian O'Brien

'A different me seeing the world': Blind photographer to publish book of pictures
 

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'A different me seeing the world': Blind photographer to publish book of pictures

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Robin McKee, who is legally blind, uses a smartphone to capture the world around him

TORONTO -- Robin McKee calls himself a VIP – a visually impaired photographer.

McKee, from Hamilton, Ont., is legally blind after losing his sight in April 2018 following three strokes which damaged his optic nerves. As of October last year he has 20 per cent vision in his right eye.

But instead of descending into depression and self-pity, the 67-year-old now uses a three-year-old smartphone to capture the world around him using light and shape as a guide.

“I don’t really see it, I only see the form and I take the picture,” he said.

“Everything in my photos is light related. I can memorize where the button is so I can just kind of frame it and take a picture and hope for the best.”

McKee, who worked in television on the audio side, always enjoyed photography.

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(Photo by Robin McKee)

Now, in the daytime, objects are blurry to him. But if the photo subject is backlit, he can see a silhouette.

No longer able to drive, McKee walks the streets of Hamilton by tracking patterns on the sidewalk, forgoing the usual white cane.

After a lifetime of good vision, blindness was devastating. But it’s been a new beginning for McKee.

“I don’t think it’s going to define me as who I am,” he said.

“I am who I am and it’s just a different me seeing the world now. Now that I lost my sight, I have to show how I feel. I have lost my sight, not my insight.”

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(Photo by Robin McKee)

A professional photographer saw his exhibition at Hamilton Public Library and suggested that he collect his images in a book. McKee has since found a publisher.

“What he saw when he became less able to see, he saw more than when he could see well,” publisher Bill King said.

As well as being a talented snapper, McKee runs free public walking tours of Hamilton Cemetery and has contributed to books about the history of the city.

The father-of-one also has a cemetery book on the go titled “Gone But Not Forgotten,” which he hopes to publish by Christmas 2020.

Unable to write, McKee has recorded his talks and they’re being transcribed before an editor finishes them.

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(Photo by Robin McKee)


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Buzz of the Orient
1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    7 months ago

The photographer is from Hamilton, Ontario, the city in which I was born and grew up.  I'm quite happy to see his success, helping to establish the fact that those who have physical challenges are able to overcome them and succeed. 

The bottom photo made me smile, because it was taken at Hamilton's main downtown intersection of King and James Streets.  All are classic buildings that were there throughout my life - the one on the right is the Imperial Bank of Canada building, the one on the left is the Birks Jewellers building (unfortunately its unique clock had been removed and mounted elsewhere) and the one in the middle is the Piggot Building that was in my time as a kid Hamilton's skyscraper, 18 stories high.  When I was little I went to the top floor which has windows that stretched from almost the ceiling to almost the floor, and I got so scared from the height when I looked down from the window that I got down on my hands and knees.  I've been somewhat wary of heights ever since. 

This is a photo from the internet of the Birks Building clock, which apparently has been removed from the corner of the building and remounted above the revamped Farmers' Market behind the Old City Hall.  On the bottom of the clock there were two jousting knights on horseback that circled the clock in opposite directions, meeting as jousters do, during the moments that the clock struck each hour.  It was quite fascinating to watch.

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This historic photo shows how the clock was originally mounted on the corner of the Birks Building.  The modern building to the left is the Bank of Nova Scotia building. 

birks_building_02.jpg

 
 
 
A. Macarthur
1.1  A. Macarthur  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @1    6 months ago

Just getting to this in a busy week.

From the article …

“I don’t really see it, I only see the form and I take the picture,” he said.

“Everything in my photos is light related."

In reality, form and light are essential, interrelated components of all representational, and, even some, abstract visual imagery. Interesting that a "legally blind" photographer understands and exploits these phenomena, when, many new, and, even some long-time photographers fail to objectively "see" and, to consistently succeed in producing images that perfectly incorporate them!

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    6 months ago

Why did I go to the trouble of posting this article?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
2.1  JohnRussell  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    6 months ago

Buzz, it doesnt appear that a lot of Newstalkers love photography as much as you do. 

Maybe you should join a photography appreciation site in addition to Newstalkers. 

Then you wont have to complain every time when of your seeds doesnt get a lot of comments. 

I used to seed articles about sports. Most of them got very few comments.  I dont seed many articles about sports any more. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.1.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  JohnRussell @2.1    6 months ago

Usually I get some comments, thumb-ups or at least a like or two on my photography articles. It was unusual that this one was totally ignored for days, which is what prompted my comment.  I realize that I often post articles when most of the members are asleep, and they get wiped off the Front Page before most are awake. 

I always try to comment on your non-political articles. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.1.2  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.1.1    6 months ago

I have now transferred this seed to the Creative Arts group in the hope that the members of the group will appreciate the success through difficult challenges that this photographer has achieved.  What his efforts are helping to prove is that one should never give up even if they encounter what could be very limiting occurrances experienced in their life.  As for what he is doing, I can truly say that I am proud of him, this man from and in the city where I was born and grew up. 

 
 
 
It Is ME
2.2  It Is ME  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2    6 months ago
Why did I go to the trouble of posting this article?

The "Pics" are great, But what can someone say other than....they're Great ! jrSmiley_87_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.2.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  It Is ME @2.2    6 months ago

Then do it, or do just a "like" or a thumbs-up, otherwise if nobody does it discourages me from bothering to post anything at all, because how else do I know anybody is even interested or has even looked at the article.  This particular article was important to me because the photographer was from my home town and I was able to talk about one of the photos from my personal experience. 

 
 
 
It Is ME
2.2.2  It Is ME  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.2.1    6 months ago
Then do it, or do just a "like" or a thumbs-up

I had, I did. jrSmiley_13_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.2.3  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  It Is ME @2.2.2    6 months ago

Okay, okay, you pass with honours.

 
 
 
It Is ME
2.2.4  It Is ME  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.2.3    6 months ago

Thanks ! jrSmiley_16_smiley_image.gif

It's just hard to come up with an actual conversation about "Photographs", and who did them. jrSmiley_87_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
2.2.5  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  It Is ME @2.2.4    6 months ago

I guess that depends on whether or not one is an avid photographer.  

 
 
 
It Is ME
2.2.6  It Is ME  replied to  Buzz of the Orient @2.2.5    6 months ago

I Don't know many "Avid" Photographers myself.

I'm a "Fly-by-night" photographer myself. jrSmiley_18_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Dismayed Patriot
2.2.7  Dismayed Patriot  replied to  It Is ME @2.2.6    6 months ago
I'm a "Fly-by-night" photographer myself

You like taking photos of big snowy owls?

r.i.p. Neil Peart.

 
 
 
It Is ME
2.2.8  It Is ME  replied to  Dismayed Patriot @2.2.7    6 months ago
You like taking photos of big snowy owls?

What ?

 
 
 
Kavika
3  Kavika     6 months ago

One has to admire this guy. When many would give up after what had happened he did the opposite. 

Kudos and I love the photos.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
3.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  Kavika @3    6 months ago

This article was kind of special for me, not just because of his success notwithstanding his challenges, but because he's from my original home town, and that third photo was something with which I was completely familiar. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
4  JohnRussell    6 months ago

The basic concept of the article, that one can take good photos by understanding and framing barely visible light patterns , is fascinating.  I'd like to see more of his photos. 

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
4.1  seeder  Buzz of the Orient  replied to  JohnRussell @4    6 months ago

Unfortunately I'm unable to find any more of his photography.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
5  seeder  Buzz of the Orient    6 months ago

A video on Canada's CTV network tells the story about the photographer.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/video?playlistId=1.4753517

The video took me about half a minute to start, and it starts with a short commercial.  You might have to click on the speaker link at the bottom left of the video window to open the sound.

 
 
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