Back in October I had the privilege of photographing Beth Finke for Option B – an organization providing stories of strong individuals who live through or have overcome many life-changing challenges.
Beth Finke went blind in her mid-twenties. I was asked to take some portraits of her and her connection with her seeing-eye dog, Whitney, to go alongside a story she had written about her overcoming blindness.
This was my first time photographing someone where visual communication would be a challenge. I was nervous about what would be appropriate to say (ex. “look over here” or “follow my voice”). I didn’t want to accidentally offend Beth out of ignorance. Before the shoot I was given Beth’s story, I learned that she went blind from Retinopathy, a complication of diabetes that affects the eyes. After researching Retinopathy, I noticed that the symptoms sounded similar to what my mother had experienced the past few years. My mother has Type 1 Diabetes just like Beth does and as it turns out also has Retinopathy. My mother, thankfully, did not go blind from the disease but I found out that my grandfather did. It was really interesting to have this talking point while photographing Beth.
Our shoot took place in the South Loop in Chicago. I approached her by gently touching her arm, introducing myself and asking if she was Beth. The moment I met both Beth and Whitney, my nerves went away – she seemed excited about our shoot. She was very open about her life and story and allowed me to ask a lot of questions regarding her life. Beth asked that I help her walk around as we were shooting, so she held onto my arm and I had to let her know about any uneven ground, steps, crosswalks or large groups of people. She let me know that sometimes it is easier to trust a human as opposed to her seeing-eye dog, especially when walking around the city. We walked around the South Loop for hours having great conversations and getting to know one another. Photographing Beth truly solidified why I love photographing people. We are all so interesting and diverse and each have our own unique story.
Please take a look at Beth’s story here.