Spotlight on Chelsea Stark***PHOTOGRAPHER***I became acquainted with Chelsea Stark through some common online sight support groups. The only thing I knew about her is that she blogged about vision impaired people from around the world and that she loved photography. I was interested in learning more about how she pursued her career being vision impaired. I felt my readers could also benefit, and Chelsea agreed.
Ready for the interview? Let’s start!
1. Can you briefly share a little bit about yourself and your background? How and when did you become interested in photography?
My name is Chelsea. I am a blind photographer. I’ve been involved with photography since I was young. I started with those little disposable point-and-shoots. I was always taking pictures of my pets. Around 2005, I received my first semi-professional digital camera. Since that time, I’ve gradually been moving up to more professional cameras. I’ve added several Nikon cameras and have now moved on to a Sony A600.***
Much of it is trial and error. I’ve never taken any classes. I’ve also spent a lot of time hanging out with other photographers.***
Now with my husband, Robert, who is a fine art photographer, I’m getting more classes basically for free and I am improving. I recently purchased the iPhone 6 and found that I like using that camera as much as I like using my Sony.
2. What do you usually photograph?
I typically photograph flowers, animals and landscape. Or just whatever catches my eye.
3. Do you like to take picture of anything else outside of your professional photos, just for fun?***
Family, friends and, especially, my pets.
4. Can you describe a little bit about your vision challenges?
I have been classified as legally blind my whole life. So nothing has changed other than my vision has deteriorated over the years, losing the use of my left eye. So I can only see out of my right, which tends to affect my ability to photograph a little bit. But I have found ways to compensate. I use the ‘Live View’ function a lot, which helps. Also, the iPhone is very good at telling me if things are in focus and if there is a face in the photo.***5. What challenges do you face in your job?
Sometimes it’s a challenge to figure out what setting my camera is on. I tend to like to keep it on the same settings. Since the Sony and the iPhone are so good, I tend to not need to adjust it very often. Editing is also a challenge at times. I usually do a little bit myself. And if I don’t like it, I’ll ask for help. I’m not embarrassed to ask for some help in editing my images.*
- Also being blind means that I don’t drive so I am sometimes at the mercy of other people taking me around. So the shots I get are usually when I’m out with other people. Because my husband is a fine art photographer, he helps me and I have fewer challenges now than when I was single. His name is Robert Park. I would love for you to check out his website HERE.
6. What response have you had from others about becoming a photographer? In respect to family, did you have any opposition to your career choice?***No negative feedback from my parents. They’ve been very supportive along with the rest of my family members. No major negative comments from friends. They’ve been mostly shocked and amazed at my images. Other people are usually surprised and have a tough time believing that I’m a photographer until I show them some images. I have also run into some negative comments.***Some people believe if you are blind you cannot take pictures. And when you show them they think you are faking that you’re blind. Some people think if you’re blind you have no vision. There are many different kinds of blindness.***Most of the negative comments I get is from people who are ignorant and will not research before they pass judgment .***7. How do you currently approach your tasks to overcome your vision challenges in a job that normally requires detailed vision?Most of the editing programs I use work with voice over. And if I need help, I’m not afraid to ask.8 Do you see yourself as a role model / mentor for other vision-impaired people? I know you work for VisionAware. How did that come about?I’ve never seen myself as a role model. Just someone who wants to show that blind and visually impaired people can do just as much as everybody else. Now VisionAware … they reached out to me and wanted me as a peer advisor.9. I wonder what qualities you have to help you succeed? Can you share three words that describe yourself?***Okay here we go. This is just a shot in the dark (no pun intended!). I’ve never had to come up with three words to describe myself, but I will try: inventive, patient, and caring.10. What kinds of positive outcomes have resulted from pursuing your job choice?***The most positive one so far is meeting my husband Robert Park. He is also my best friend.***The other thing is that I have been able to go out and see the beautiful countryside and national and state parks.
Chelsea also volunteered to share some FAQs about herself.
- When you visit my blog, you’ll see images that I’ve taken over the years using several different devices, such as as a Nikon Digital camera, iPhone and, most recently, a Sony A600.
Some key questions people tend to ask me are:***What does photography mean to me?***“I think, for me, photography means that I can pause the World around me so I can get a better view.”
***What does art mean to me?
***The best way I can describe it is in this saying I found.***
“Art is not the medium, and art is not the execution; art is the idea.”***While this opinion is debatable, it’s one with which I happen to agree with and one that blind photography supports.***Where do I find art?***
Art is every where and all you have to do is look. With the right amount of inspiration and ideas you can make art out of anything.
***Where do I find inspiration?***I find inspiration in … the majestic mountainsides.*****
***And the newly-bloomed flower that reaches out to the sun.*****Yes, photography is sometimes hard for me but when you get that amazing photo, it’s all worth it.***What does beauty mean to me as a visually impaired photographer?***
The animals that stop and look at you almost like they’re posing so you can take their pictures.*
I believe beauty is something that moves you and inspires you. I believe beauty is everywhere. Also I believe in the saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
***I hope this gives you a little better picture of what I like about photography.***
Chelsea Stark was born with optic nerve damage and is legally blind. She has tunnel vision and can only see to about two feet in front of her. She uses a Nikon with live view to compose her pictures since she cannot see through the viewfinder. Since her field of vision is so narrow and she doesn’t relate to wide vistas, she photographs close-up, intimate subjects. She typically photographs animals, flowers and sometimes scenery. She uses an Apple Mac, which comes with speech, an enlarged screen and an over-sized mouse pointer.Her inspiration comes from her loving husband, Robert Park. The more of his pictures she sees, the more she gets inspired. He is also her teacher; she hopes one day her pictures will be as good as his
You can connect with Chelsea by checking out the following links:
- Chelsea Stark Photography
- Blind Photographer
- About Me
- Web Gallery
- Flickr Chelsea Stark Blind Photographer
- Google +
- Linked in
- iPhone and iPad Apps for the Blind and Visually Impaired
- The History of Apple iPhones
- Blind All Around the World
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You have just read “Friday Friends: Spotlight on Chelsea Stark” by Amy L. Bovaird. Copyright April 17, 2015.
Friday Friends: Spotlight on Chelsea Stark
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