Sean Walker, a unique vision
Sean Walker is a photographer who takes pictures in and around Newtown area. But he has a unique vision – not only does he frame interesting perspectives in black & white, he is colour blind – completely - unable to see colours.
Here he explains his condition and his inspiration.
“Imagine a world without colour, where the setting sun paints the sky in vivid greys, fireworks explode into shards of gleaming white, where an autumnal forest and a pebbled beach share the same stony palette. This is my world.
“I am a monochromat, meaning I only see in shades of grey. This is due to a rare genetic condition that deactivates my retinal cone cells, which are responsible for both colour perception and fine central vision. As a result I’m also highly sensitive to glare, and struggle to see detail at long or short distances. Think of a black and white television program, then blur out most of the detail.
“When I disclose my colour-blindness to others, their reaction usually combines fascination with a hint of dismay. So much of your sense of beauty seems to derive from the effect of colour! And so, while I’ve always enjoyed it, I’ve always been reluctant to pursue photography as more than a casual hobby. After all, if I happened to ‘get the colours right’ it was always by happy accident. I toyed with black and white photography but hesitated to embrace it. After all, for most people, a monochrome image does not reflect their view of the world. It’s an abstract, a mood piece, a scene with the colour stripped out, a way of reducing a thing to its essence.
“Then one day I came across a modern monochrome camera, a beautifully pure monochrome device. Just like my eyes. Finally I could share the world as I saw it and show that black & white is so much more than the absence of colour
“My photos range in theme. Some I edit to highlight the stunning beauty of reflection and the purity of light and dark, while others are of objects or places usually synonymous with beautiful colours. I generally gravitate towards dark tones, probably because of my glare sensitivity. It’s easier for me to see in low-light environments, so my eyes are more attuned than ever to finding the beauty in shadow.
“I choose subjects that are pleasing to my eye, rather than spend time wondering if an image will look good in black and white. The enjoyment of your own craft must be the start of sharing it with others.
“Being confined to the local areas has been fantastic in providing an opportunity to look on our doorstep to find striking beauty, from urban scapes to the incredible vistas of Sydney Park.”