TORONTO -- Robin McKee calls himself a VIP – a visually impaired photographer.

McKee, from Hamilton, Ont., is legally blind after losing his sight in April 2018 following three strokes which damaged his optic nerves. As of October last year he has 20 per cent vision in his right eye.

But instead of descending into depression and self-pity, the 67-year-old now uses a three-year-old smartphone to capture the world around him using light and shape as a guide.

“I don’t really see it, I only see the form and I take the picture,” he said.

“Everything in my photos is light related. I can memorize where the button is so I can just kind of frame it and take a picture and hope for the best.”

McKee, who worked in television on the audio side, always enjoyed photography.


(Photo by Robin McKee)

Now, in the daytime, objects are blurry to him. But if the photo subject is backlit, he can see a silhouette.

No longer able to drive, McKee walks the streets of Hamilton by tracking patterns on the sidewalk, forgoing the usual white cane.

After a lifetime of good vision, blindness was devastating. But it’s been a new beginning for McKee.

“I don’t think it’s going to define me as who I am,” he said.

“I am who I am and it’s just a different me seeing the world now. Now that I lost my sight, I have to show how I feel. I have lost my sight, not my insight.”

GO station

(Photo by Robin McKee)

A professional photographer saw his exhibition at Hamilton Public Library and suggested that he collect his images in a book. McKee has since found a publisher.

“What he saw when he became less able to see, he saw more than when he could see well,” publisher Bill King said.

As well as being a talented snapper, McKee runs free public walking tours of Hamilton Cemetery and has contributed to books about the history of the city.

The father-of-one also has a cemetery book on the go titled “Gone But Not Forgotten,” which he hopes to publish by Christmas 2020.

Unable to write, McKee has recorded his talks and they’re being transcribed before an editor finishes them.


(Photo by Robin McKee)