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Pranav Lal – A visually impaired photographer who broke the stereotype associated with blindness

Not everyone is born with all sense and physical and mental health intact. Some are blessed with more profound powers at the cost of either sight or hearing. Not having a vision does not mean they don’t see. They see better than us, and that is special to them.

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Pranav Lal wearing specially designed glasses for the visually impaired

Introduction

I am here to share a story about Pranav Lal, a visually impaired photographer who has broken the stereotype associated with people in his circumstances. He started as an activist but soon found that he was not satisfied with just being behind the scenes and wanted to be more hands-on.

His first project was photographing women from all walks of life for their stories which resulted in him capturing some fantastic photographs of solid individuals who have overcome adversity. He has also photographed artists like David Bowie and Madonna. One of my favorite quotes from him is, “I’m limited by what I can’t see, rather than what I can.”

Who is Parnav Lal

Pranav Lal was born in India with a condition known as retinitis pigmentosa. This condition causes progressive vision loss and blindness for most patients. Despite his diagnosis, Pranav’s passion for photography never diminished.

He went on to study the craft at the California College of Arts, where he now teaches students how to use their creativity to tell stories through images. “Photography is not just about pressing a button,” Pranav says. “It’s about capturing something that you saw or experienced.” His work has been featured by National Geographic and The New York Times Magazine, among other publications; it can be seen online at his website http://www.pranalphotography.com/

Well, it’s pretty unfair to tag them disabled.  Instead, they are unique as they feel the nature within themselves. It is nature that bestows them the power and the courage not to take their limitation for an infirmity, but as a powerful and, the ability to do the undone.’  

How Pranav Lal Broke Stereotypes

Saying that one example perfectly fits our sketch, Mr. Pranav Lal is a Delhi-based cybersecurity specialist. The 32-Year-old Lal was born blind as he was suffering from Retinopathy at the time of birth. But his blindness did not dither him from choosing photography as a hobby. He broke the stereotype, correlated with visual impairment that a blind person can never capture things.

Pranav believes that all barriers can be tackled. Regarding that, he carries his camera wherever he goes in the hope of capturing some beautiful moments. Among his favorites are clicking the pictures of historic buildings, landscapes, nature, machinery, and Lodhi Gardens, New Delhi.

I have always been interested in photography. As a child, I would take pictures of insects and bugs, even though they were hard to find. I remember going on a family vacation to the Great Wall of China and taking pictures with my little Kodak camera from 1999 when I was eight years old. In high school, I started practicing photojournalism as a way to tell stories. My first article featured an interview with an Afghani woman who had just lost her husband in the war on terror and wanted more American troops out of Afghanistan so she could safely raise her children without worrying about them being killed or kidnapped by terrorists at any moment. The story went viral worldwide because it captured how people felt about America’s involvement.

Pranav Lal

“It is iconic. It has everything: greenery, structures, animals, and water – adding a lot character to the place,” says Pranav.

Being unable to see, it was quite a challenge for him to pursue his passion, but until 2011, he found a technology called “The vOICe.” This was a life-changing moment for Lal, as the software founded by Dutch engineer peter Meijer scans the images and converts them into sound- everything Lal needed to accomplish his dream.

How the Technology Works

Lal’s pillar of hope, “The vOICe,” consists of glasses fitted with a camera. The software processes perfectly on both Android devices and Raspberry Pi computers. The mechanism behind its working links to artificial intelligence. The application translates the live camera views into sound using breakthrough technology, determining what a person is looking at.

While moving from left to right, the camera scans the objects and records the sound’s pitch and loudness. Pitch represents the elevation of things, while the louder sound reflects a brighter object. The higher the pitch, the higher the object’s height, and the higher the loudness, the brighter the object.

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Conclusion

Pranav Lal is an example of people who can not see, hear, speak, yet have the enthusiasm to do something. If you have such a story, do not hesitate to share it in a way that reaches out to all the ears and inspires the thousands to pursue their passion.  

Viable Outreach | Activism for the 99%