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Vision-Impaired Photographer Shares His Art And Vision Using Light Painting

By Hanssie on January 20th 2016

The most important thing about photography is light. Without light, we would have no pictures. Without light, there would be no life. Without light, we wouldn’t be able to see.

For photographer Steven Erra, a life without light is fast becoming a reality. In 1979, Steven was in art school when doctors told him that he would lose his sight within 20 years due to an eye disease. For anyone, that diagnosis would be devastating, for a photographer it’s unimaginable.

“Light is something very powerful for me, yet it’s also something that I’m desperate to hold on to.”

So for the last 20+ years, Steven has been making his art, sharing his vision with the world before he loses his. Steven can only see very bright light and has a very narrow sight, only able to see a small area about “half the size of [his] thumb” with nothing around it. “It just doesn’t exist,” he says.




Steven works with The Seeing With Photography Collective with other sight-impaired photographers that use a light painting technique to create their images. He uses a very long exposure in a pitch black room a subject and a flashlight. Even when he becomes completely blind, Steven will be able to continue making his art and creating his vision using this method. And though he will not be able to see it and appreciate it, we can look at this inspiring man and still see his vision.

Watch this short video by Great Big Story and check out Steven’s work here.


Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

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  2. Bárbara Herrnsdorf

    Mr. Erra’s work is gorgeous and mysterious and intriguing and inspirational all at the same time. Thank you for sharing this!

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    • Hanssie

      I agree! I think he’s such an inspiration for finding ways to continue to do what he loves in spite of his physical limitations.

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