NICHT was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease at age 20, the very age he had aspirations to be a photographer. Stargardt’s Disease is an extremely rare eye condition that causes sensitivity to light and partial visual impairment.
When NICHT was diagnosed, he was advised by his doctor to stop pursuing photography. He was nothing short of lost, disheartened and confused. Despite it all, he gracefully rode the waves, and continued on his pursuit of photography, unfazed.
Before NICHT’s diagnosis, he had already discovered photography - but did not put much thought into the photos he took then. He just wanted them to take “beautiful” photos.
His lack of vision later forced him to touch and feel more. He soon found a different purpose and meaning behind his passion in photography. Slowly, his images started to be less distracting, focusing more on the stories behind each image instead. His works started reflecting his persistence and perseverance, a rebellion against Stargardt’s Disease.
In conversation with NICHT
Tell me more about yourself?
Hi I’m NICHT and I turn 26 this year. I'm a freelance photographer/visual artist.
What does photography mean to you?
Photography is a way for me to communicate my thoughts and emotions and also a source of reminder that my eyes are ok.
I was exposed to photography when one of my close friends started it as a hobby. I got influenced and followed suit. It became more serious than a hobby when I was nominated by a mentor in ITE to be the group's photographer for an OCIP trip to China, Lijiang. After we came back, I was encouraged by the mentor to submit the photos for a photography competition and unexpectedly won. That made me think of taking photography seriously.
How does Stargardt’s Disease affect your everyday life?
If we were to pass by each other on the street, even if you were someone I knew I would probably just walk by. I have a hard time distinguishing friends from strangers as I can't see facial features very well. Also whenever there’s strong light around, I will need to be wearing my sunglasses because it hurts my eyes.
And as a Visual Artist/ Photographer?
Before my eye condition, all I wanted to take were 'pretty' photos. There wasn’t any thought or meaning to them, I just wanted them to be ‘Instagram-worthy'.
Right now, I like to take my time to soak in and truly feel what’s around me. Seeing less and being in the moment. I prefer my photos in black and white. They are simple, contrasty and less distracting, which focuses more on the subject.
Image: "Look" by NICHT
Tell me about your work.
I don’t have a fixed genre that I go for, but I realised I subconsciously gravitate towards human faces. Maybe it’s because of my inability to see faces.
I do like to capture works that are meaningful. One of my earlier and favourite works I've had the chance to document is TRACE by Ethrisha Liaw.
TRACE is a mixed media art installation by Ethrisha Liaw for her artistic response to Amanda Heng’s 'A Walked Line Can Never Be Erased'.
I so fondly remember being in awe knowing that she made everything from scratch and really loved the conceptual ideas she poured into the project. This project will always hold a special place in my heart.
‘My Eyes Are OK’ is running at Champion Bolo Bun from 21–29 May 2022 . Come enjoy NICHT’S work, and grab a bolo bun or two while you’re at it!
NICHT regards his works as a form of rebellion against Stargardt’s Disease, an eye condition, which causes oversensitivity to light. This visual impairment causes NICHT to struggle in distinguishing colour tones and facial expressions. Choosing to embrace his limits, he expresses himself through visuals that manifest his thoughts, emotions and view of the world around him.