Amanda developed a photographic sense in the darkness

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Or contact: yvette@syncinspire.org

Sometimes when we follow our joy instead of thinking about what is logically possible it leads to trusting our intuition and honing other senses more than we had previously realised their capacity. Amanda has discovered that following her joy of photography has led her to not only realising a smaller dream, but recognising that her biggest dream is now a possibility…

Amanda copy

My name is Amanda and I was registered as a visually impaired person when I was 22 years old.

My sight has always been pretty bad since I was little but, when I was 14, I went for a routine eye exam and was told my vision had got a lot worse. They couldn’t really see a reason why but I was told then that I would never be able to drive and just got on with my life. At that time of my life, I discovered rock music and Green Day and that really helped a lot.

My parents and my family have been absolutely amazing throughout my life. I got through normal school, with my fantastic friends helping me to read the board and helping me copy notes and stuff. I always had a bit of a lazy eye, but in my teenage life it seemed to get a lot worse and that is when my mum first got in contact with Moorfield’s eye hospital as she was worried there was something seriously wrong with my eyes.

That was probably when I was about 17 and since then I have been visiting Moorfield’s who have been so helpful. It has taken a while to get a diagnosis as my condition does not tick all the boxes of certain things but I have been diagnosed with cone dysfunction because of having a condition called Biedet Bardel Syndrome. (BBS)

At 20, I had an operation to help me with my lazy eye and it seems to have helped a lot. That was my first operation in my life and I was really scared at the time. At the time I was in the middle of my course at University and again, I managed to get through it by having great friends and a great social life at Herts Uni. I absolutely loved being a student and will never forget my time I spent there and the people I met.

I managed to get through my degree at Uni, which I absolutely loved, but I had a friend who was really good at photography and I thought I would give it a go.

When I finished my studies, I had to register with another optician and that was the first time anyone had ever said to me that I was a visually impaired person. The optician asked me to go through my GP to get referred back to Moorfeild’s Eye hospital.

Since then, I have had a lot of tests and eye exams to determine what is actually wrong. They thought that I had a condition called Achromatopsia but I have been given the diagnosis of having cone dysfunction. It is so great to have a diagnosis as it has taken a long time to find this out, but I am so grateful to my parents and Moorfield’s eye hospital for all their help with this.

My first camera that I bought was a tiny little point and shoot camera that was pink and I loved it! I took it on my holidays and my outings and just played around with it really. That started my love for taking photos.

The first time I knew I really wanted to try and succeed as a photographer was in 2011. I entered a photo into the Herts Open Arts Exhibition and won the under 30’s art prize for my shot of a Heron that I took. It gave me the confidence and drive to really want to exhibit my photos.

After that, I saved up and bought my first proper camera. It wasn’t a DLSR but it was a bridge camera and it was a lot more technical and a lot better than my little pink one!

Since then I went to college to learn the basics of photography and go out as much as possible taking photos of things.  As you can imagine, I can’t really see too much of the subject that I am taking, especially if I am outdoors in the sunshine, but I take loads of shots and then come home and have a look on my monitor at home to see if I have any good ones. My camera is also pretty noisy so I know when it has taken a shot which helps a lot.

One of my traits, which I am sure is just as bad as good sometimes, is that I am a very stubborn person and I wanted to prove that, despite my bad eyesight, I could do anything that I wanted with my life. I have never given up, despite having to work really hard for what I want, even if people think it is a bit mad!

I was registered as a visually impaired person as I really cannot deal with bright light and have really bad photophobia. I am really lucky as Moorfield’s Eye hospital managed to find me some really dark tinted contact lenses so I can deal with the glare inside and I have to wear category 4 sunglasses outside to deal with the sunshine outside. I would not be able to deal with the outside world otherwise.

I am really lucky I have enough sight to get on with what I want to do in my life, and also that I was born into a world where there is a lot of technology to help when I need it!

I know that sounds completely bizarre to a lot of people that I am a partially sighted person and a photographer at the same time! It is what I truly love doing. I believe I understand the camera quite a bit because I can relate to it like my eyes.  For example, with exposure I can understand that because it is a bit like my eyesight not dealing with bright light, as photography is all about understanding lighting and how it affects an image.

I have been really lucky, through being a member of my local arts group, that I have been able to exhibit my photos in my local town and have sold a few. It gives me such happiness to know that someone loved a photo that I have taken so much that they have bought it.

In 2020, the arts group I belong to asked me to have my own gallery of work up and I was so excited to have my first proper gallery. Unfortunately, due to the Corona Virus, it has been postponed as the gallery is shut. I hope to have many more exhibits in the future.

I have had my sad days, where I really doubt myself and wonder why I am trying to achieve this but it makes me even more determined to prove all the naysayers wrong. One day I want to have my own gallery in London with all my work hanging up and then I can say that I finally made it!

My thanks go out to all my friends and family for always helping me out with my journey so far. Without them, I just wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I have so far.

Thanks so much for reading my story. If you would like to have a look at my photography, I have my photos up online at www.flickr.com/mandyclarkie

Here are a couple…

Blue hour at the tower_edited-1

Blue hour at the Tower, copyright Amanda Ramsay

St Paul's Cathedral with Blossom_edited-1

St Paul’s Catherdral, copyright Amanda Ramsay

Do you have an ‘Eye Inspire’ story of #Emerging Proud through Eye Sight Loss you’d like to share?

Please GET IN TOUCH HERE

Or contact: yvette@syncinspire.org

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