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A lensman’s insight

Born completely visually impaired, Pranav Lal is gifted with a rare insight — one that propels him to ‘listen’ to his surroundings and translate it into photographs.

entertainment Updated: Jan 16, 2011 00:37 IST
Shara Ashraf

Born completely visually impaired, Pranav Lal is gifted with a rare insight — one that propels him to ‘listen’ to his surroundings and translate it into photographs. Armed with a laptop, headphone and a cap that has a webcam attached to it, Lal goes about looking for subjects to shoot.



This Kuwait-born MBA, who works as an information security consultant in a corporate firm in Delhi, has fought odds that comes with lack of eyesight. Be it learning with digitised textbooks, performing science experiments at home in a ‘duplicate’ lab, or relying on a writer to give his exams, Lal has taken it head on.



So you are not surprised when he tells how he found out a way to satiate his hunger for photography. “I craved to translate my expressions into visuals but could not do so until one day while surfing I learned about Voice, a software that helps me ‘see’ via sounds,” says Lal. “The technology I use converts sound to vision, allowing me to perceive images through sound. I wear a headphone while using the technology,” he explains. The process of building a mental image of what Lal sees in front of him may take him minutes and sometimes hours. “It does become challenging to recognise a scene if I am using a new camera or if I use the head mounted set up,” says Lal.



Lal learned about the technology on the internet. “And since then there has been no looking back. It was a liberating moment when I first took photographs,” says Lal. Lal recently shared his photography technique at a seminar organised by Goa Center for Alternative Photography that trains hobbyists and professionals into alternative photographic practices. The only visually impaired photographer to have participated, Lal created photographs with a matchbox pinhole camera.



“I had a great time shooting some night photography with my pin hole inside a joint in Panjim in Goa,” shares Lal. He has been tutoring other visually-impaired photography enthusiasts on internet since the time he started ‘seeing’ the world in a new way.


Lal’s work has also found place in the gallery of Beyond Sight Foundation in Mumbai that promotes art among the visually-impaired.