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Sunday, 21 December 2014

WEIRD NEWS: Meet Nigeria First Blind Female Photographer, Taiwo Lawal

After the tripod was set, the photographer checked the angles to ensure the ‘balance’ was good. She then felt the buttons on the camera. Then, she looked into the lens. Camera. Ready. Action! You may consider this the ordinary routine of a photographer. Yes it is. But, what makes it extraordinary is that Taiwo Lawal, the photographer, is totally blind. Lawal, 35, felt her way round the tripod to our correspondent and explained with a smile, “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.”

She gave her consent to learn the art of photography two years ago. Now, Lawal takes photographs like someone that is not blind.

She continued: “I’ve learnt a lot about the lens of a camera, the view finder, LCD screen and so many parts of the camera.”

Medical science has stated that blind people tend to show enhanced ability in the other senses. This probably applies to Lawal.

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.”

Lawal put her skill to use as she took many shots of our correspondent and the surroundings.

“Some time ago in Ikeja, someone expressed doubt on the ability of a blind person to take photographs. Immediately, I took my camera and demonstrated to him,”she said, laughing.

But does she have an idea of the outcome of the shots she takes?

Lawal, answered, “Whenever I take pictures, I know it would be beautiful, because I see them in my mind.”

Before photography found her, Lawal had learnt some few trades which included: bead-making and bag-making. These took her four years.

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.

“Lawal is the first blind photographer I’ve ever heard of. She’s an inspiration,” said Mrs. Bitebo Gogo, Executive Director, Keeping It Real Foundation, which organised the event.

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.

“Taking pictures makes me happy. Also, it has helped me forget my past sorrows, when some people didn’t appreciate me and I endured a lot of insults,” she said.

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