Have you ever known or met someone, to later find out that they have an Invisible disability, also known as a hidden disability or non-visible disability? You may know someone and never know it. Recently I was researching things on disabilities and accessible technology related to photography when I came across a person who is a world-renowned photographer and has a hidden disability. The more I researched this gentleman, the more interested I got in his success as a photographer.
This is the story of David Katz, a world-renowned photographer, who has taken amazing photos of celebrities, politicians, and royalty. Recently I had the opportunity to do a video conversation with David, so we could talk about his photography career, and something nobody knew.
When he was about three months old. David has Ocular Albinism. Ocular Albinism is an exceedingly rare genetic disorder that reduces the pigmentation in the iris and retina. As well it caused him to have strabismus, Nystagmus, and Astigmatism. For anyone that is an optometrist, will know what these three things are. But for people who do not know. here is a quick rundown on it.
So, I asked David. How far can you see? He said on an eye chart nothing with my right eye, and the top letter with just my left eye. As well, by not being able to judge distance and sensitivity to light. I asked him. No matter how far you can see. Is it blurry? He told me that things are not blurry, but more like out of focus, and that he does recognizes colors.
David now lives in Israel but was born and raised in England. When he was seven years old his father gave him his first camera, a Nikon EM 35mm SLR. Having that camera in front of his face and looking through the viewfinder. Allowed him to be able to see things exactly how he sees them in his mind and produce them through the camera, and he has been clicking ever since. Eventually, he moved up to more advanced cameras. One of them being the Nikon D3s. Lately, as well he has been using mirrorless cameras and they are a much lighter type of camera. He says he plans to faze out his Nikon and stick with the mirrorless camera types.
At the age of about sixteen, he was well on his way with his professional photography career. One of his first jobs was working for a local newspaper. Then by the time he turned nineteen he was working for The Daily Mail. The Daily Mail is a newspaper across Britain and the biggest online newspaper in the world Founded in 1896, it is the United Kingdom's highest-circulated daily newspaper. He worked there from 1986 to 1989.
In his thirty-year photography career. There was something hardly anyone knew other than a couple of close friends. He is legally blind. When he was incredibly young, his parents did not want people to know the full extent of his condition. They feared it would influence the way they act towards David. They wanted David treated as a normal person.
In 2017 he announces to the public that he was legally blind. I asked him, what made him decide to make it public? He said he wanted to help children and their parents to understand that there is No Such Word as Can't and that anything is possible, through his story. These days, he keeps busy with public speaking, mentoring, and helping the visually impaired, and he still takes on photography assignments that are meaningful to him.
As we wrapped up our conversation. I wanted to ask him one more question. If you were to give any advice to a person with a disability that was interested in photography, what would you tell them? His reply was. You do not need a fancy camera; A cellphone would do. Take lots of pictures and see where you need to improve.
When I first heard of David Katz and had a conversation with him. The first thing that went through my mind was, that he is amazing. But then another thought went through my mind. Do other people say this to him? and how does he feel about it. Does it make him feel uncomfortable? Or does this not bother him at all?
The reason I mention this is that. Often when I am in the public and I am doing something, for example. Purchasing something in a store and paying for it or doing up my jacket or whatever the case. Strangers will say to me. That is amazing how you do that, and I feel a little embarrassed. It is not something amazing. It is just the way I do things. How do other people with disabilities feel when this happens to them? I never know what to say other than thank you.
I guess when I say that David Katz is amazing. I am thinking about all the pictures he has taken. I am thinking, what settings did he use for this picture or that picture. I am thinking of photography and nothing else. From talking to him, I know how he does it. I also understand where his parents were coming from when he was small. They wanted David to treated like everyone else, and that is how it should be. Disability or no disability.