Embracing Creativity Through Color Blindness

by: Vince Russell

Let me start by saying I am no expert in photography and I don’t claim to be. In this world, many other photographers exist who are far more talented than me. I just so happen to enjoy mobile photography a great deal and express that passion through the use of Instagram. I have dabbled in DSLR photography, which I can say that I do enjoy, but I don’t often prefer. When it comes to that avenue of photography, editing photos presents itself a difficult task for me. I have what is known as anomalous trichromacy – a fancy term for red-green color blindness, which is an impairment of normal color vision, not a complete loss. Color blindness is hereditary and more commonly found in males. My Papaw, my mother’s father, is completely colorblind. By nature, the colorblind gene skipped my mother and was passed down to me.

I originally found out I was colorblind in third grade. I remember the day like it was yesterday, which for those that understand my amazing memory (insert extreme sarcasm) know that’s a miracle in itself. I do not know if it is commonplace now, but in 1995, the elementary school I attended gave all the children vision tests, which also included color blindness tests. The woman administering the test gave me a small cardboard cutout with a circle full of other small circles of various colors. She then said, “Okay, now follow the pattern from one end to the other.” I looked at her like she was speaking German – confused, to say the least. My nine-year-old self simply traced a random pattern that did not exist. A few tests later, they told my mom of my color vision deficiency.

For years, I thought that I was not normal. I don’t say that for pity or to even say it affected me that much. I just thought I was different, which I was and still am.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” Jeremiah 1:5a

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I understand the context of this scripture was intended to talk about being a prophet to the nations, but I also understand that God gives revelation to us all through His Word. This verse means to me that the Lord knew what he was doing when I was created. He knew I would be colorblind. Many years ago, I came to terms with this and actually have taken hold of what makes me different. Because of my color blindness, I see the world differently than most. Because of your normal color vision, you as well, see the world differently than most.

The point of all this is simply a message of not comparing yourself to others and embracing what makes you different. I have found ways to embrace my color blindness and capture images how I see them. Sometimes it is a challenge because I may have to ask someone if the color or lighting is right, but I find that my images show how I see things. They sometimes don’t conform to the norm, but they work for me and I enjoy that. Some speculate that Vincent van Gogh himself was indeed colorblind. But, look at what he was able to accomplish, although not well known until after his death. If he was actually colorblind, he did not let it limit the vision he saw for his paintings.

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things.” – Steve Jobs


How will you embrace what makes you different?