The Devastating Photography of a Light Painter Slowly Going Blind

There have been visually impaired artists in the past, but few can say they’ve been going slowly blind for two decades—and decided to start creating art in spite of it. You can meet one man facing this challenge in the short video below:

The man behind the lens here is Steven Erra, a visually impaired photographer who specializes in light painting. He learned about his degenerative eye illness, Retinitis Pigmentosa, in his final year of his university, where he was earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts at Parsons School of Design.

visually impared light painter

Erra’s illness isn’t total blindness—he can still see a small sliver of what’s in front of him, though it’s foggy and dim. It’s enough to use a flashlight to light paint in total darkness, the results of which are hauntingly unforgettable.

black and white light painting portrait

One day, it’s likely that Erra will be completely blind. But until then, he’s got a mission to work on.

“The fear I have about blindness is very strong. It’s a feeling that my life will not be worthwhile if I can’t see. But as a totally blind person, I will still be able to do the light painting. So it is a comfort to know that my work is strong, even though in the future maybe I won’t be able to see it.”

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One response to “The Devastating Photography of a Light Painter Slowly Going Blind”

  1. I know how you feel, Steven, and am very sorry… hope someone will come up with a breakthrough treatment for RP. I suffer from Retinitis Pigmentosa and lost my vision in the right eye in 2008… I have some vision left in the other eye. Hope I can preserve whatever eyesight left for some more time. I wish you the very best… Take care. SP

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