Ashley and Victoria
James and Melissa
Kahee and Isaac
Prom night is a momentous occasion for the high school students at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. It has become a special night for me as well. I was introduced to the blind community in 2005 while working as a stills photographer and field producer on the Emmy-nominated film, The Eyes of Me, a documentary about four students attending TSBVI. During filming, we made it a point to cover prom, and since then, I have volunteered as the school’s photographer for the event each spring.
After hair, makeup and final primping in the dorms are done, the students travel by bus to the Crowne Plaza Hotel. Dinner is served, followed by an eager progression to the dance floor. With an hour left in the night, prom court crowning begins. The room erupts with applause, as crowns and tiaras are placed upon the heads of this year’s favorites.
Over the course of the evening, couples leave the dance floor to have their formal portraits made. Each year, I create a painted backdrop appropriate to the prom theme, which often stretches my limited painting skills, but I enjoy the creative problem solving. In the quiet separation of the portrait room I have the opportunity to interact more directly with the students. With each new couple or individual that enters, there is a unique set of circumstances. Some students have a good amount of usable vision, many are completely blind, and still others have additional physical and mental challenges. But no matter what, on this night, there is joy, and it is my pleasure to share in it.
The images from BLIND PROM not only memorialize prom night for the attendees and their parents, but I hope they introduce a larger audience to what life might be like as a blind teenager. Between heartbreaking differences I believe there are considerable similarities to many's own teenage experiences.