The Photographer Who Sees in Black and White

Completely colorblind, Louis “Fish” Fisher has a unique perspective to share.

When I first met Louis “Fish” Fisher in Costa Rica, I spotted him as he spotted me, both fully focused in our art, only separated by a crowd of people, with his Canon zoom lens focused on me. I was dancing on stage at a festival when I noticed a lanky guy with long curls slightly tamed by a backwards hat. We connected from a distance as he wielded his zoom lens over his forearm to get the perfect shot. I immediately was intrigued by his enthusiasm as his smiling face popped up from behind the massive lens to give a wink and a thumbs up. Soon after my performance Fish and I met backstage where he showed me the pictures he had just taken. There were VIP media passes dangling from his neck alongside holsters that held two cameras ready to capture any moment. As he flipped through pictures on his camera’s display I was mesmerized by the emotion he captured in just a few moments from a great distance away. Once I had seen them all I only had one question for Fish: “Why are all your pictures in black and white?” With a warm smile, Fish answered, “Well, I’m colorblind and I shoot this way to show the beauty of a different perspective. It’s not often that you get to experience a festival through a new view, so I am here to give you a glimpse of my world. What do you think?” I was captivated. Fisher_Louis_Wanderlust_Tahoe_wtrmkd_004 Contrast is something we may not often see. We regularly take our perception of color for granted. Our awareness of color has been ingrained in us since the early days of Dr. Seuss’ book, One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Since meeting Fish, my understanding of color and light has grown more complex. When I first learned of color blindness, I had heard of certain people who see blue, purple, and sometimes red as only one shade of blue. Fish soon informed me that this is only one type of color blindness. He explained to me that his rare condition of rod monochromacy made it so he couldn’t see any color at all. It also caused slight day blindness due to genetically lacking the photoreceptor cells called “cones” that absorb blue, red, and green colors to transmit them to the brain’s vision lobe. People like Fish are rare, his condition represents one in every 50,000 cases of color blindness, and it’s also the most severe. His eyes rely solely on the photoreceptors known as “rods.” Some people might think of this as a disadvantage when it comes to capturing beauty in photography. The rods in Fish’s eyes can easily be oversaturated by light, leaving his daytime vision compromised and his nighttime vision enhanced. The kind of light we might love in a sunrise or gaze into during a sunset is the same light that makes Fish squint in pain as his eyes work hard to make out shapes and figures in bright environments. When you put Fish in a forest, however, where the sunlight beams through pine trees to reveal a goddess dancing in a flowing dress, he’s in his sweet spot. I have witnessed it time and time again in his most epic work—breathtaking angles of light beaming down to reveal the subject as a glistening angel emerging from the darkness. Fisher_Louis_Wanderlust_Tahoe_0373 Though being fully colorblind has its obvious challenges, Fish’s diagnosis didn’t steer him away from the arts, quite the opposite: “It drew me in deeper, desiring to express my perspective through any means possible,” he told me. “Photography came to me in my early teens … [it] swept me off my feet, showed me a path, and gave me a tool I could really harness to expose my ‘truth.’” While his family supported him, many said he shouldn’t pursue photography since he couldn’t see color. But despite the adversity, Fish found peace in his photographs. “I could pause time, hold onto a memory, and share my love for the world around me. It has become my purpose—to create and hold space, foster creative expression in myself and others, and promote mindfulness on personal, social, and global issues with imagery.” On that day in Costa Rica, I was both captivated by Fish’s work and inspired by his courage to be confident in owning his color blindness, while providing others with the opportunity to see in a new light. After he showed me his photos, I let him know that I was intrigued by his art. He smiled with a sense of knowing that was humble and kind. From that moment forward I knew we would be lifelong friends. Since that day, Fish and I have traveled from festival to event, from event to workshop, doing everything from performing on stage to tribal body marking crowds of festival-goers. In our journey I have realized that Fish’s skills are endless and his art isn’t limited to his work behind the camera. He’s a multi-faceted artist who thrives, with skills ranging from tribal body marking to vegan cooking. Fisher_Louis_Wanderlust_Tahoe_0211 Fish continues to amaze many with the uniqueness of his work. Whether in color or black and white, Louis “Fish” Fisher has a way with light. Photos courtesy of Louis "Fish" Fisher Andrew SealyAndrew Sealy is a connection catalyst, a yoga artist, and a movement creator. His days are spent traveling to find adventure, practicing to cultivate growth, and constantly absorbing wisdom to creating new experiences that he shares with love to his friends around the world. The continuous self discovery process of yoga compels Andrew to embody progressive knowledge while positively influencing and empowering his students. Andrew’s teachings aim to answer the question: How can we adapt to create and evolve to sustain? Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.   Louis Fish FisherLouis “Fish” Fisher is an achromatic (totally colorblind) photography, illustration, mixed media, and video artist originally from New York City. Fish earned his degree in education with a focus in photography, later learning his work found its home in documentary and photojournalistic endeavors. After returning from interning in Israel and the Caribbean, Fish moved to Missoula, Montana, to build up his branding and portfolio at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Fish currently resides in Los Angeles, California, and photographs for NY-based agency, Retna Ltd. Follow him on Instagram.