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Sunday, 21 December 2014

Meet Nigeria's First Blind Female Photographer

Meet Taiwo Lawal, Nigeria'a first blind female photographer. As impossible as this may sound, this 35 year old woman is on a journey to completely master the art of photography. She embarked on this journey about 2 years ago, and now takes pictures with her camera. She said: “At the start, I kept wondering how a blind person could learn photography. I thought it was impossible. But the person who introduced me to it said it was possible. So, I agreed to do it.”

Taiwo and her twin sister were born blind to a mother who got pregnant after she was raped by a man in a village in Ondo State. When the man later found out that the twins were born blind, he absconded.  She said, “We had no clothes to wear, only panties. People treated us badly, and sometimes, they threw stones at us. We were fed 5-day-old food. We didn't have any choice then but to eat it. Now, I can laugh about it because it’s in the past.”

Giving an insight into how she is mastering the art of photography, Lawal said she uses her sense of hearing and touch to take pictures. She said, “If I want to take a picture, I would go to where the person is, and feel his location; then I would communicate with the person to sense the direction, as the sound of the person tells me where he or she is. Also, if I want to take pictures of nature, I first feel the object by touching it, then move back and take the picture. When I touch a flower, for instance, I see the colours in my mind. I can also tell if someone is happy or sad, because I know it would be reflected in the picture.”

Before photography found her, Lawal had also learnt bead-making and bag-making. Her photography has, however, been taking her places. Recently, she won an award at the International Day of Persons Living with Disabilites, which held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. 

Also, last year, Lawal met American Joe McNally, a globally renowned photographer at a photography exhibition. “When we discussed, he encouraged me to continue with my work. I was happy meeting him, because I never thought I would ever meet such important people. Now, I no longer feel bad because I do not see. If I were not blind, maybe I wouldn't have gotten to where I am today,” Lawal said, adding that she wants to pursue a career in photography.

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