In late 2002 I became legally blind. One eye has no useful vision; the other has severely degraded vision. Yet, I see. There are some things that I can no longer do at all, and many things that I must now do differently. Photography is one of them.
I create photographic images using traditional films in vintage or antique view cameras. Visual impairment has made photography more than a creative act for me. Photography has become a therapeutic affirmation of my ability to adapt to, adjust to, and accept my condition. Photography has become more than another way of seeing. For me, photography IS seeing.
When composing an image on the ground glass of the camera, I often feel a link with the creative tradition of pioneer photographers such as William Henry Jackson, Fredrick H. Chapin, Curtis and others. Lens and film technologies may be modern, but the creative process is much the same.
Any amount of light is important to me. I am drawn to the subtle movement of light across a subject to envelop it. Shape defining shadows and strong patterns attract my attention. I tend to work with small subjects and compact compositions. Many of my images are still-life; found objects placed in window light. Other images are studio creations. Some work may be intimate environmental compositions, both indoors and out. Many of my images breathe a quiet tranquility. And yet there may also be subtle tension.
It is not enough to photograph an object, I must capture the light that surrounds it.
Drew Bedo comes to large format photography late in life, after following several technical careers. As a drilling fluid engineer in the oil industry, Bedo photographed stock images of desert scenes from oil rigs in the Middle-East.
In the late eighties, Bedo trained in diagnostic imaging at Baylor College of Medicine. He performed Nuclear Medicine procedures on patients using radioactive isotopes and digital imaging equipment. During this time, Bedo developed his interest in large format photography as a low-tech, hands-on counterpoint to his daily work.
In 2002, a medical condition rendered him legally blind in a matter of days. Forced to leave Nuclear Medicine, he retired. Suburban life is confining without the ability to drive. Entertainment options are limited to listening to information programming and audio books.
“Legally Blind” means not totally blind. Bedo has residual vision. He sees muted shapes with subdued colors and some detail in a narrowed field of view—in one eye. He now reads with magnifying appliances, yet he cannot make out identifying facial features. This is the nature of Bedo’s visual ability.
Eventually he climbed out of his easy chair to unpack his 8×10 camera. On a sunny day he set it up and turned it on a garden statue. He made out a change in the ground-glass image as he racked the focus knob back and forth and was elated. He began to shoot again from time-to-time.
Today, Drew Bedo creates fine-art photographic images with traditional materials in antique and vintage large format cameras. His images are available on-line and at public showings.