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18 November 28

Pete Eckert – seeing without sight

Under - Art, Inspiration, Photography

Pete Eckert was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa, and began to lose his sight when he was 28. But, the loss of sight didn’t make this ‘visual person’ lose his soul.

I didn’t take photography seriously until I went totally blind. I was trained in sculpture and industrial design. I have always been a visual person and planned to study architecture at Yale, but then I started to lose my sight. A doctor coolly told me I had Retinitis Pigmentosa and left the room without further comment. While listening to Dr. Dean Edell, on a San Francisco TV network, I learned I would go completely blind. A caller asked about RP. I remember the doctor’s words; they hit me like a hammer. “A person with RP gradually looses their sight until they go completely blind.” There is currently no cure for RP.

It took me two years to recover and figure out what to do. I was a carpenter at the time. I did first-rate work. So I never needed to hunt for a job. None-the-less I worked very little, just enough to pay the rent and for food. My girlfriend, Amy, stood by me during this difficult time. Amy and I were engaged. I worried about the future. At one point I laid out charts graphing the loss of vision over time for her. I told Amy if she left me after we married I wouldn’t hold it against her. She stuck it out. In June we will be married twenty-four years. Thank you Amy.

Source: Artists Wanted – a collaborative project between several New York City artists and creative organizations working to build new lasting opportunities for emerging talent.

28 thoughts to “Pete Eckert – seeing without sight”

  1. Dave Spring

    February 7, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    Isn’t it amazing how God made us to overcome our disabilities. Just keep in mind that this is only temporary, life is only a vapor, but in Heaven we will all see Him with 20/20 vision.

  2. Carol Beth Icard

    February 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Thanks to the Photo JoJo email newsletter for sharing this incredibly beautiful art work by an inspirational human being. I have been really touched.

  3. Dave

    February 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    I like to think of photographs as memories of things I’ve seen or someone else has seen. Here, it sounds like he’s creating things from his memory and giving them to us. Very cool

  4. Chris

    February 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    Fantastic! A true hero.

  5. Shirley

    February 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    What an inspiration, not just for the arts, but for life in general. Way to go Pete!

  6. David Babayco

    February 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    I was very impressed with what I read and saw. His creations from memory were awesome!

  7. Vi

    February 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    Just goes to show that there are no limits. What an inspiration he is to all of us.

    Thank you PhotoJoJo for sharing.


  8. Heather

    February 7, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    I am so inspired by this!! Thank you for sharing this amazing story!

  9. Jonah Burlingame

    February 7, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    He’s right to let his success stand on the quality of the work. No need to let his disability be ‘the hook’ as he states. I’m inspired. Sight or no sight Pete has vision.

  10. Jen

    February 7, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    His work is really good. The story about the car hitting him, and him putting these “phantom like” cars in his pictures, was fascinating – as well as his perception of sound.
    Excellent article.

  11. jaijai

    February 7, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    god didnt make him over come his disabilities his human spirit and passion over come his disabilite.

    a disabilitie is only a disabilitie if you decided to let it be.

    we should all take pete as a shinning example that with passion, determentaion and a never ever ever give up outlook we can achieve anything if we really want to.

    love will conquer all.

    amazing so inspired

  12. Lucy

    February 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    Incredibly inspiring story, thank you!

  13. Kenneth

    February 7, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    This was truly amazing and inspiring. Never give up!

  14. Kenneth

    February 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    I’d actually love to learn more about his technique. It appears to be a style of lightpainting. Is that correct?

  15. Garnetta

    February 8, 2011 at 12:02 am

    This was truly inspirational. It shows that when one is given a difficulty (the proverbial lemon), one can excel and succeed. He used what could have been a life stopping event to create a window for the eyes of the world to see through. Blessings.

  16. Josh

    February 8, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Amazing story. What an enduring human being.

  17. Kimla Holk

    February 8, 2011 at 4:47 am

    My father-in-law suffered from RP but it didn’t stop him for living either. Amazing inspiration. TY

  18. melancholik

    February 8, 2011 at 5:00 am

    An amazing and inspiring story. The love for art will never be lost even in blindness.

  19. Dominique

    February 8, 2011 at 5:07 am

    This man is so inspiring. He has not let his circumstances slow him down and instead has let his creative light shine out anyway. For him to want to compete with sighted photographers (which I used to think was the only kind) and then to be accomplished as their equals… it just blows my preconceived mind.

    I am a photographer, just heading out into it, and the thought of my loosing my sight was too terrible to contemplate. Oh, I could not have been more wrong.

    Thank you for sharing this. It’s changed my mind, and that is so amazing.

  20. Shelby

    February 8, 2011 at 7:45 am

    such a beautiful inspiring story.

  21. Heather Glasby

    February 9, 2011 at 2:09 am

    that was amazing. I live in fear of losing my site for whatever reason and this guy just copes. He doesn’t just live with it, he lives in spite of it.

  22. Sandy

    February 9, 2011 at 5:57 am

    I totally understand and agree with the concept of being judged on one’s ability, and not based on one’s challenges.

    Born with underdeveloped optic nerves, I have been “legally blind” all my life. However, it has always been very important for that not to be my story. I, too, came to photography only recently, and I understance a lot of the techniques and senses that Pete uses. In my case, when asked how I can capture things the way I do, I jokingly say it’s “blind luck!” But it isn’t.

    However, I am always telling people–and I have believed it to be true–that it’s harder to have had something and lost it than to never have had it at all. But perhaps, Pete has proved me wrong.

    Pete, your work is amazing and I new have some fresh ideas to work with. Thank you.

  23. monica

    February 9, 2011 at 6:03 am

    I am amazed and inspired with your creative ability and your determination, not only did you overcome your personal tragedy but you create fabulous art! Keep it up I for one will be waiting to see what you do next! Thanks for sharing through photojojo.

  24. Yvette

    February 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Forget that this man is blind. His work is amazing. Remember that he is blind. His work is inspiring. Thank you Pete Eckert for sharing your gift.

  25. Scott Lavender

    February 11, 2011 at 12:10 am

    This is a very inspirational piece. Makes me even more inspired as a photographer. Well done!

  26. flash gorn

    February 18, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    So what now?

  27. jamiyah

    August 17, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    he’s amazing its hard but not impossible

  28. Brown

    August 21, 2020 at 9:53 pm

    doesn’t matter if he is blind he is great amazing and has lots of talent his art work is amazing

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