I want you to imagine how you would feel about photography if you weren’t able to see, or if the quality of your eyesight was so poor that you could only see a small fraction of the world in front of you? I am pretty sure many of us would be horrified by the prospect. I think I would go so far as to say that most of us take our eyesight for granted when it comes to photography and that we would question the point of making a photograph of something we cannot see? After all, isn’t eyesight the most important tool we have?
And yet, for Ian Treherne, a photographer who is both blind and deaf, it isn’t his eyesight which is a tool but rather photography itself.
Ian was born with the eye condition RP Type 2 Usher Syndrome and at the age of 15 he was told that he was going to go blind.
From a young age Ian had always been a creative person. The isolation that he experienced as a result of profound deafness, lead him to take up drawing and painting. Eventually his creativity led him to discover “the mechanical box called a camera.” With the news about his impending blindness, Ian felt a sense of urgency to see as much as possible, photographing and collecting as many images and memories as possible before the “curtains were drawn permanently.”
Most of Ian’s images are black and white and the inspiration for his photography comes from cinema, music and literature.
If you were to ask Ian what photography means to him he would say that it is “about many ideas in one moment being captured. Light, texture, materials and atmosphere all play a pivotal role to create the final image.”
For Ian though his photography isn’t just about the images, it is far more than that. Through his photography Ian is playing an important role in reducing the stigma which is still associated with disabilities, something which he experienced whilst growing and which made him hide his blindness for many years out of shame.
Ian feels that things have improved, the Paralympics and conversations via the internet having empowered a positive start in image diversity representation in the media, sports and entertainment.
Ian is an ambassador for Sense UK and collaborates with the newly formed UK organisation Zebedee Talent, a specialist casting agency for children and adults whose aim is to change the way that people with diverse disabilities or challenges are represented in fashion and the wider media. For Ian “This is not to do with vanity, simply demanding our place of acknowledgement and existence in the world as people.”