A new tactile imaging process could help a recently blinded photographer experience his images in a whole new way, if his family and friends are able to raise enough money to cover the costs


Image: Photographer Clive Egginton with his wife Wendy. Photo credit: Marcus Sarko

Following photographer Clive Egginton’s loss of his sight from cancer, his friend Stuart Anderson has embarked upon a campaign to raise money to produce a touchable Braille-alike version of one of Clive’s images.

Clive Egginton, a senior lecturer in photography at Leeds Metropolitan University, has shot several long form projects of life in Sheffield. At the time of his diagnosis, he had been studying for a doctorate.

‘It was frightening to see how quickly it happened,’ Stuart said. ‘In the four weeks it took to make a radiotherapy mask, he had a fit at home, he lost the feeling down the right side of his leg and he lost his vision.’

Clive became despondent at the thought that photography might become forever closed to him. While looking for ways he could possibly help, Stuart came across the work of Juan Torre.

Juan Torre is a Spanish photographer who has 6% vision as a result of Behçet’s disease. Despite this, he has continued to take photographs by adapting his technique to compensate for his poor vision.

He has developed Braille-style ‘tactile’ photographs that can be interpreted via touch, by having the image raised or lowered in accordance with areas of highlight and shadow. The BBC explains it here.

‘Up until then, at any mention of photography Clive would refuse to talk about it or burst into tears,’ Stuart said. ‘When I told him about Juan Torre, for the first time he became animated and interested in photography again.’

Clive holding a sample of one of Juan Torre’s tactile images, generously provided by the RNIB. Photo credit: Marcus Sarko

The issue now is raising the €3075 estimated cost of having Clive’s image printed in this tactile style. To this end, Stuart has opened a fundraising page for donations from friends, family and any well-wishers who want to help Clive see his pictures again.

‘Clive think it’s important that this kind of thing is promoted,’ Stuart says. ‘This will mean he isn’t just having stuff down for him, he is working as a creative artist from his hospital bed, being the driving force behind making the rest of the country more aware of how photography can be available for the visually impaired.’

The image chosen for the process depicts local Sheffield boxer, and friend of Clive’s, Dave Howe. As this is a relatively simple portrait image that Clive clearly remembers and understands, Stuart and the others think it will be the easiest for Clive to learn how to look at with his fingers.

Image: This is the shot of Clive’s that, if all goes to plan, will be converted into a tactile image.

And if the campaign raises an excess, Clive and Wendy are already looking into blindness-related causes they can donate to.

‘Clive is keen that this benefits other people too,’ Stuart said, ‘which is just the sort of chap he is.’

The blog and donation link for Clive’s tactile photos can be found at http://atactilephotoforclive.blogspot.fr.