Blind veteran Nick Barber enjoys his sixth photography week

30 May 2017 10:30

We recently held photography week at our Brighton centre. A chance for our veterans to enjoy a selection of workshops and trips to local scenic spots.

Whether confident behind the lens or trying their hand at photography for the first time, this week is a chance for veterans of all levels to let their creativity blossom, have fun and make new friends.

Group photo of 7 blind veterans, plus guide dog, taking part in Photography Week at Brighton centre

Excursions during the week included a 'treasure hunt' trip to Brighton Pier which was rounded off with fish and chips. The treasures along the route were the scenic hot spots to capture on camera, one of these being Brighton's famous ‘donut in the sky’ - the British Airways i360. 

One of the 14 veterans attending the week was Nick Barber, aged 55 and from Macclesfield. Having been supported by the charity since 2007, this was the sixth Photography Week Nick has attended.

Blind veteran Nick Barber's black and white photograph of a cottage
Nick's photography - Southease, East Sussex

Nick lost his sight in 2001. Having always had problems with his vision, it was on one night in particular, when coaching under 8’s football, that he noticed a sudden deterioration in his sight. Nick says: “I realised that I could hear the kids but I couldn’t see them running. The ball would appear then disappear, everything was a blur. I told my wife when I got home and she booked me in for an eye test straight away.”

Nicholas BarberFollowing this, Nick was referred to the eye hospital where he was diagnosed with Bull’s Eye Maculopathy and Retinitis Pigmentosa. Describing his eyesight, Nick says: “Imagine that what you see from is the size of a beach ball, what I can see from in comparison is the size of a table tennis ball. I have no peripheral vision and my sight is also affected by the light.”

Initially coping with being registered blind, Nick says: “No longer being able to drive upset me. It’s that idea of losing independence and feeling housebound that really affects your confidence.

"Before I started receiving support from Blind Veteran’s UK we didn’t get any help, my wife was struggling and so was I. Both my wife and I took a big turn for the better when we came into the charity."

“I went on an intro week at Brighton and, without making a pun of it, it was an eye opener! Once you get down there and meet blind veteran Martin Shail, you realise that despite being completely blind, he can get around as well as anybody else there. I thought if he can do that, I can do it too.”

Nick Barber's black and white photograph of a line of rails running out to sea

Having excellent photography skills and being familiar with the course, Nick will be running our next photography week in September alongside veterans Mark Pile and Chris Nowell.

Nick tells us:

"It's empowering being able to help someone else, it definitely improves your confidence. Before the week I didn't feel comfortable with street photography but because I’ve done it now I feel like I can do it again."

Nick has been a keen photographer for many years. He describes his time serving in the Falklands as photography heaven with many picturesque views to capture.

For Nick a highlight of the week was a visit from tutors at The Royal College of Art. He explains: “Jan and Victoria went through tethered shooting, where your camera is attached to your laptop, so whatever your camera sees shows on the laptop. It makes taking a picture much easier to see.

Another aspect of the week Nick enjoyed was a trip to the local animal centre. Nick tells us: "Lifestyle photography isn’t easy for people with sight loss as it's particularly difficult to capture things when they're moving but it was nice to be able to photograph the ducks in their natural environment."

Blind veteran Nick Barber's photograph of a duck in water

Describing the week overall, Nick says: “We have a good laugh and a chance to discuss all things photography for hours. It’s nice to talk about it with someone who shares the same interest."

As well as being a mini break for Nick himself, he says it also gives his wife, Jacqueline, chance to rest: “For that whole week she knows I’m getting cared for and she doesn’t need to worry.”