Dark Light: The Art of Blind Photographers is a 30 minute documentary featuring three wonderfully talented blind photographers. The idea for the film was first proposed to me by my co-producer, Corrine Marrinan (an Oscar-winning producer for her 2006 short documentary A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin). When she first suggested the idea to me and asked if I wanted to collaborate, my first thought was this sounded like a joke.
Having spent almost 50 years of my life as a photojournalist working mainly for Sports Illustrated and Time Magazine I thought I knew something about photography and it never dawned on me that a blind person could take pictures, certainly not pictures as good as the photographs in the film taken by Pete Eckert, Bruce Hall, and Henry Butler.
I jumped at the opportunity to make the film primarily because I was curious as hell as to how a blind person could shoot pictures. Once I began working with my subjects I quickly understood how wrong I was in my initial assumption. These three guys not only love the art of photography but they are really, really good. As I watched Pete Eckert paint with light I thought, wow, his are photographs I'd be proud to have my name on. The idea of a blind man scuba diving is hard enough to buy, add to that the fact that Bruce Hall is not only an expert diver but the photographs he takes underwater could easily be good enough for National Geographic (which, in fact, has published his work several times).
My favorite photographer of the three was easily Henry Butler, who was born blind. Henry's specialty is photographing people. Like the great people photographer Harry Benson, Henry's outgoing personality is easily 50 percent of the reason his pictures are so wonderful. Henry charms the hell out of his subjects just like Harry Benson does so getting great pictures of them becomes pretty easy.
In any case I must say that by the time I was putting the final touches on editing Dark Light I had been completely won over to the idea of a blind person being a terrific photographer. It was really an inspirational experience for me.
I've had a lot of wonderful things happen in my career but perhaps the nicest thing that has ever happened to me happened last summer when I screened Dark Light (sort of a sneak preview) on a Crystal Serenity cruise in the Mediterranean. I was a guest lecturer on the ship and in the audience for the screening was a 13 or 14 year old blind girl named Maria.
When the film finished, I approached Maria and her family to ask how she enjoyed the film. Her answer brought tears to my eyes. Maria looked up at me and said that she liked the film very much and she was now asking her mother to buy her a camera so she could take pictures.