Blind photographer uses senses to capture images
Published Thursday, October 13, 2011 5:54AM EDT
Tara Miller's snapshots of nature, agriculture and food has caught the eye of Canadians and netted her a top prize at a photography contest this year.
But what makes this an astounding accomplishment is that Miller is legally blind.
"I always loved doing artistic things -- drawing, painting and when I was younger doing the film photography," she said in an interview for a new series on CTV News called a Canadian Original.
Miller was forced to give up her passion eight years ago, however, after glaucoma robbed her of all sight in her right eye and left her with just six per cent vision in her left eye.
But her husband Jeff, with whom she works as a commercial photographer at their 100 Acre Woods Photography studio in Winnipeg, encouraged her to pick up the camera and try again.
"I said ‘Here you take the camera. You shoot it'," said Jeff.
And shoot she did. Snapping picture after picture, each one was more beautiful than the previous one. It also resulted in her prized piece "Fortuitous Twilight" a spectacular shot of a lightning flash snapped during a storm.
"The lightning came across. I snapped," she said.
The 2010 image won Miller numerous awards including a national award this summer in a contest sponsored by The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) of which she was the only visually impaired contestant among the five finalists.
Each photo, which is sharp and colourful, captures the landscape and wildlife around Miller's native Manitoba.
Not only has photography given her satisfaction in her life once again, it has also allowed her to see. By using a computer, Miller can zoom into her photos making the camera her eyes.
"It's been a daily thing where I have just wanted to go out there and take the images and put them on the computer and be able to see the images again," she said.
Despite winning numerous awards and having her images used in magazines, calendars, travel guides and promotional guides, Miller has struggled to be recognized as a serious photographer.
"I have finally started to be taken seriously for my ability and not my disability," she said in a biography on her website. "Because I don't look legally blind some people have laughed at me when I tell them what I do or assume my husband Jeff does all the work."
But Miller, who has struggled with her vision loss over the past 20 years, said she finally found "inner peace" after she took up photography again.
And now Miller uses that experience as motivation and takes that message on the road with her as a motivational speaker. Her mission statement is: "Don't rely just on your eye to see, use your vision."
With a report from CTV's Jill Macyshon