13 August 2010 - by ~ 1 Comment

My Total Immersion into Photography

It’s not a surprise that finding fulfilling hobbies is a challenge for those of us with severe mobility impairments.   This August marks a year since I took the giant leap into the world of digital photography.   I took this leap not only because of my desire to become a well rounded journalist but for a recreational outlet as well.

The most difficult part of this  process was finding suitable  adaptations so I could  operate the camera with as little assistance as possible.  I first started by tackling how I could activate the shutter of the camera when I wanted to take a picture.

I first ordered a remote shutter release from Nikon.  This would have enabled me to push a button to take a picture but it turned out not to be that simple.   My hand strength unfortunately wasn’t enough to make this work.    I then resorted to searching the net for other options and I stumbled across something perfect for my needs.

I found a company in Arizona called Conceptus and they specialize in skydiving photography equipment.   They have a product called the  Bite Switch and it allows the user to activate the shutter by simply biting down.   The owner sent me a complimentary switch and it’s what I’ve used ever since.

Now that my shutter issue was solved, my next step was to find something that I could mount my camera to.   I visited my local camera shop and checked out the professional tripods they had in stock.   Luckily I found one that not only held the camera in a variety of positions but also allowed me to drive my chair up to it.   I was now setup  to begin my work as an amateur photographer.

My total immersion into photography took place last February when I enrolled in a photojournalism class.  This class was great because it taught me the technical skills needed to capture great images.   The class also required us to  get out shooting in the world around us.  The variety of assignments really tested me but the hardest part was walking up to total strangers and asking if I could photograph them.   Most people were gracious and cooperative but a few wanted no part of being on film.

The class ended with a final project where we had to cover a subject in great depth.  My choice was to follow the life of a local glass blower.   I not only covered the entire glass blowing process but I also included his life as a family man.   It was great fun taking pictures of his active boys who were 1 and 6 years old.   The project was quite involved but it helped me secure a B in a very challenging class.

Since taking this class, confidence in my photography has increased and I’ve had a couple opportunities this summer to do some photo shoots.   This fall,  I’ll be taking a multi-media journalism class and this should be a great chance to put my skills to use in a professional setting.   I couldn’t imagine being at this point when I  started this journey one year ago.

I have learned a very valuable lesson in this whole experience.   That lesson is that even though I have a severe disability, it doesn’t mean I can’t push the envelope in what’s possible.   There are so many people that are quite surprised to see me taking pictures and yes I suppose it is a bit of novelty to them.  I just smile and think I’m just glad to be doing what every other photographer does.

  • Hobbies can be a great outlets for those of us with DMD. My hobby is 3D modeling. How about everyone else?