– People who can see take pictures of what they see. Since I cannot see, I don’t know what I am photographing, says seventeen years old Axel Røthe.
He got blind at ten, and has been interested in photography for many years. Axel got all of Norway’s attention when he wrote the post “I am 15 years old, blind and probably one of the most lonely youths in the world” in the newspaper Aftenposten.
His brain works constantly to orient. One question is often repeated: “How does it look?”What does the sky look like? A plane? The oranges on the bench? What does the color green look like?
As a child Axel has seen all this but now he is working intensively to see the world in his own way, and photography has been one of his methods.
His head is full of pictures. Although he is blind, he creates new images by putting together all the answers he gets mixed with the images created by sounds, smells and emotions. The pictures he takes are beautiful, sad and quite funny – “Picture of Capercaillie” contains no capercaillie. He missed it. He has photos from inside a chimney, a bin – even inside a drum.
He is constantly searching for how things look.
– How did I start, dad? Was the first picture I took an onion?
– Yes, a finely chopped onion in a blue bowl.
When Axel opens his eyes he can see a little bit light, a shadow. He can tell the difference between day and night.
– I have forgotten how the blue sky looks, and the color orange.
– Remember orange – the fruit, Axel?
– I know what it is, but not the color. People say I have green or turquoise eyes. That I do not understand.
– Turquoise is like a swimming pool, his father responds.
– I see what you mean, but I do not remember the color.
– How do you know what you are photographing?
– Well, I don’t. People who can see are taking pictures of the object. When someone takes a picture of a dog, they are photographing the dog. I cannot see the dog. Maybe, I capture parts of it, maybe not. But it might become a nice picture anyway, says Axel.
He is attracted to sounds and smells. If he hears a fire truck, an airplane or a stream a world inside him is awakening.
– Many people think that blind people cannot take pictures. Did you know that Beethoven was deaf? When he played a symphony he left the courtroom without turning towards the audience. He was sure that no one liked it. If he could hear, he would have heard a standing ovation. It is so sad to think about. That he got up and left without hearing the applause. He had the music inside his head.
Text modified by: Anette Broteng Christiansen, ThorNews
Photo: Stein Bjørge/Aftenposten