Those of you who know me might be having deja vu right now. Didn’t Natalie have a Happy Salmon blog back in the day, when blogs were a thing? And the answer is yes, yes I did and I kept it going for about 6 or 7 years posting fairly regularly. It was full of stuff about my day to day life and it was fun. I’m glad I did it and it’s great to look back on.
This site is something a bit different from my 2008 Happy Salmon blog. This site will have more of a focus (pun intended) on my photography and in particular my experience as someone with a visual impairment, who takes photographs. Here’s what this blog is about:
This blog is a place for me.
This blog is a place for me to explore, and share with you, how photography helps me see the world and has helped me be myself.
I am visually impaired and I also have complex PTSD. These conditions have shaped my life not least because the world we live in isn’t designed with people like me, or disabled people in general, in mind. Here’s an example of what I mean. When I started designing this blog I was offered a series of choices about it’s design. One of the choices was did I want it to be accessible to disabled people. And you know what? I was really pleased to be given this choice because many websites and online services still aren’t accessible to disabled people. “But hang on” I thought “that means I could select no. I could choose to ignore accessibility?” Surely every design template offered should be accessible? Why is this even a choice? Why would you want to exclude anyone?
If you’d like a different example of exclusion: when I was 6 years old my teacher told my parents that she didn’t know what to do with me. Imagine that, being 6 and knowing that a teacher doesn’t know what to do with you. You’re different, a problem, something that has to be dealt with. (Imagine being a parent who is told this about their child.) I came across the exact same attitude when I was training to be a teacher. Before my first three week, teaching placement the class teacher I was being placed with told the university that she didn’t think I should be teaching. She’d never met me. She based this assumption on the fact that I was partially sighted.
When I worked on a ground breaking research report into the experiences of disabled Londoners in 2003 we called the report “Another Planet” which was a quote from one of the participants:
“When people dismiss you and exclude you and treat you like you are from another planet, that is when the veneer cracks and tears flood inside.”
One way I have sought to cope with this exclusion is by fighting for disability rights, and challenging inequality in all its forms, through my day job. After three years of being a secondary school teacher, I switched to working for disability rights, that was 23 years ago. It’s been a long 23 years with some real highs and some horrible lows. Now, though I want to turn my attention to something more creative, so through my blog I will explore:
- How do I take photographs when my sight is impaired? This will include tricks I use that can help anyone take better photos.
- How photography unlocks the world for me.
- How I’ve improved my mental health and wellbeing using photography and how you can too.
- The importance of creativity in helping me feel less excluded by society.
- How nature helps me heal and connect with the world.
- I’ll be introducing you to places, people, and things that bring me joy and challenge assumptions about disability.
You can see more of my photos on my flickr page.