Doug Spicer not letting blindness stop him from taking photos

AT THE READY: Doug Spicer, who is known as the blind photographer, in front of one of the photos he restored. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH 0208MSblindphotog2.
AT THE READY: Doug Spicer, who is known as the blind photographer, in front of one of the photos he restored. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH 0208MSblindphotog2.

Photographer Doug Spicer can’t see. 

He can make out light and dark, and he can make out very vague shapes, but he has been legally blind after being diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, which Mr Spicer describes as “extreme tunnel vision”, in the 1990s. 

However, it hasn’t stopped him travelling around the Central West with friend and fellow radio host Peter Crawford taking photos of anything and everything.

“I can see far better through the optical viewfinder of a DSLR camera … I can see more through that than I can in real life,” he said.

Mr Spicer takes photos of landscapes – mountains and hills and paddocks, but also buildings and old farms. 

“I’m no good as a character photographer as I don’t know if they’re smiling or in centre frame,” he said. 

His love of the world of photography and video began when he was in the army, when he got to making “silly little movies”.

He was promoted and given a role at a TV studio, and from there he started one of the first video production businesses in the Central West in 1982, before jumping into Prime television. 

“I was a camera operator, lighting director, set designer, all that sort of stuff … you had to be a jack of all trades,” he said.

He then made the switch into news, and enjoyed that – at least until things started going wrong.

“I made a few mistakes and missed some things while editing, and then while driving I’d nearly run over some pedestrians or joggers … so they made me take an eye test and from that day forward I was legally blind.”

He kept on as a camera operator, but was unable to drive and became just the camera operator and editor but gave it away after a year.

“I didn’t notice my vision going at all,” he said. 

Since then, he has continued taking photos as his eyesight got worse and worse, and also set up his computer screen to the right specification for him to edit and restore photos for the historical society.

He has been working with the society for years, which included restoring a panorama of Orange from 1908, which sits in the council chambers. 

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