Karren Visser in green long-sleeve T-shirt reflected in window holding camera close so that one half of her face is concealed. A brightly lit garden is behind her.

Self-portrait, © Karren Visser. Seeing in Isolation, produced by Multistory and Karren Visser, April 2020.


2023 Unseen Memories
  with Sandwell Visually Impaired

2022– 23 Accessible

2022– 23 Inclusive Heritage ‘Kanala’ (please)
  British Council Unlimited

2022 Sight Lines
  Arts Council England
  Developing Your Creative Practice

2022 Never Seen
  British Council Sub-Saharan Africa Arts

2021 Seeing and the Imagination
  British Council Unlimited

2019 – 21 Seeing in Isolation

2014 – 16 Burden of Care

2012 – 14 Autism in Africa
  in collaboration with Wellcome Trust

I am a partially blind photographer. My creative practice is adapting constantly to accommodate changes caused by degenerative myopia and glaucoma. Sight limitation since birth has given me an unusual way of seeing. This makes me sensitive to the challenges many with disabilities face daily. Consequently, I am interested in approaches to gathering stories so that individuals and communities are actively involved in their representation.

My parents’ discovery of my poor sight when I saw the microvilli on the tongue, not the giraffe, is a story that occasions laughter. I share how the first time I came home with glasses I rushed around pointing out mountains and trees. Humour I find is a way of dealing with less favourable experiences of disability. In my first year at school I learned to pretend, but it was not possible with thick cat’s-eye glasses to avoid teasing or being made to feel inadequate. In my teens contact lenses hid this enough for me to devise ways of seeing. Throughout school, university, in work situations, I kept quiet about my poor sight. This is no longer possible.

I am interested in audio description and ALT Text that is informative and provides insight into what is portrayed. Audio description has further advantage in being able to share details that are not obvious in the photograph. I see this as another form of storytelling, where the photograph and its description blur. And so, the process of visualisation is not restricted to those with limited or no sight.

In participatory photography workshops I share my personal experience as a photographer with a deteriorating sight condition. I see this as an opportunity for the full-sighted, blind and partially blind community to be instrumental in showing how visual information is shared more broadly.

The combination of a photography major from the University of Cape Town, School of Fine Art and support from the late South African photographer David Goldblatt provided training in the principles of what denotes a strong photograph. However, as my sight changes I find myself needing to accommodate my own heightened responses to my environment to remain connected. This makes me aware of the role photography plays in communication and improving an understanding of our differences and similarities.


I welcome enquiries from organisations and individuals interested in socially engaged photography, to include commissions and the opportunity to collaborate in remote and on-site workshops.


Karren Visser