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Conceptual Photo Shoot on Vision for The Wall Street Journal

In today’s edition of the @wsj there’s an incredible article written by Susan R. Barry about eyesight. The piece focuses on Liam McCoy who, at the age of 15, underwent corrective surgery to give him the ability to see. As Barry articulates in the essay, when a blind person gains the ability to see later in life “the improvements [are] discombobulating. Surgery plunged Liam into a world of sharp lines and edges. While we all see lines at the boundaries of objects or shadows, we know where these lines belong. We recognize an object immediately—all of its parts combine together, instantly and effortlessly, into a single unit. But after a childhood of near-blindness, Liam did not recognize the lines as boundaries of known objects. Instead, he saw a tangled, fragmented world.”

This is where I enter the equation. Photo editor Michael Bucher reached out to me and asked me to create a conceptual image to accompany this essay. In the article Barry mentioned that before the surgery Liam wasn’t completely blind but could only see clearly up to three inches in front of him. I immediately thought of shooting portraits of my son, Jack (who is just a couple years younger than Liam was when he underwent surgery). My goal was to use a range of different techniques to capture my son in a way that referenced the way Liam used to see the world while also exploring the science of light.

I threw everything I had at this. I shot at shallow depth of fields to try and capture a sense of isolation; I shot through translucent materials in an effort to obscure detail; I used color theory to deconstruct light to its prismatic components; I used foreground elements to obscure Jack’s eyes; and ultimately, the most successful image was created by using a smear of coconut oil on my lens to create a photo that’s both in-focus and blurry.

Thanks to @michaelbucher_ @marcyayres @lindarubes @ronniephoto for including me in your vision. This was a truly special assignment.

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