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Oakland photographer Leon Borensztein documents the life of his disabled daughter

on October 30, 2017

Leon Borensztein is a Polish-born photographer who for over 30 years has been photographing his severely-disabled daughter, Sharon. She has optic nerve hypoplasia (underdeveloped optic nerves), seizure disorders and is legally blind. Borensztein says because of his difficulties growing up as a Jewish person in post-Holocaust Poland, he wants to give a “voice to the voiceless.” Borensztein says he’s trying to paint a full portrait of what life is like for those living with severe mental disabilities. “I’m going to show how beautiful and attractive she is, but also how disabled she is,” he says.

After enduring bullying and harassment in Poland during the 1960’s, Borensztein moved to Israel to attend a university, and eventually settled in Oakland in the 1970’s. Borensztein has been working as a photographer ever since. Borensztein, who resides in the Crocker Highlands district of Oakland, has taught photography at the California College of Arts and Craft in Oakland and the San Francisco Art Institute.


  1. Julie on November 1, 2017 at 8:21 am

    moving profile, but where can we see more images he has made of his daughter?

  2. Ange on November 3, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    I have a 6 year old son with SOD. Thank you for capturing the beauty these children provide to this world. They are so pure and innocent and can only give love and teach those around them about love. I have learned more and grown more these past 6 years than I have my entire life. I have become a better person because of my son. Your daughter is beautiful and you are beautiful. Thank you for adding positivity to this world.

  3. Caldeiras Alenquer on September 11, 2018 at 4:32 am

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. it is good to see that there is still someone who sees the world with another vision.

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