Dark Room and the Deaf Photographer

I received an email from talented photographer Peter Bryenton, and asked if I could post it here because it gave me insight in a major problem that a deaf photographer has to deal with. They came up with a clever solution… but it isn’t perfect. He kindly agreed and provided an expanded note.

There’s a serendipitous feel about the way I sometimes stumble across links between blogs long after I’ve forgotten how I arrived at them.

Meryl is an experienced blogger, worth reading, with whom I have exchanged a few brief words about teaching special needs children. There is often an immediate assumption among many people that a hearing impairment, or an unusual speech pattern, signifies stupidity. More often than not, nothing could be further from the truth. Is Stephen Hawkins any more daft than the rest of us, just because his body does not obey his mind?

I remembered how, when I was at Art College in the early seventies, I befriended a fellow photographer who was profoundly deaf. Andrew was exasperated by other students, who repeatedly burst into his darkroom, ruining his work. They had dutifully followed the unwritten professional code of conduct and knocked on the sliding door first. On hearing no reply, because, of course, their knocking had not been heard, they went in. Surprise was usually the least of the ensuing states.

There was a clever system of red and green lamps above the doors. Put our trust in technology, OK? Well, frail humans leave red warning lamps switched on, even after they have left a space, forgetting to switch them back to green. Oh, and let’s not forget about those who lived with red-green colour blindness?

Life isn’t ever simple, is it?


  1. Hi there Im currently going through that, Im severely deaf and I adore photography in the dark room , obviously I cant lipread, but what we did and hav is, a heavy black velvet curtain behind the door, so if anyone walk in the dark stays dark!! 🙂

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