Healthcare photography is no joke. It can involve 60 to 80 hour work-weeks on hard concrete floors. Clinical healthcare shoots include a lot of hoping that your feet don't give out, or that your trigger finger doesn't get tired. There are a million different scenarios that all require patience, diligence and excellence. Here’s a story of a healthcare campaign I did for Med Center Health in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Med Center Health is a small community hospital that does really big things for their community. They were also one of the first places that allowed me to go into photograph surgical suites, and wander freely among the hospital floors. I got to really sink my teeth into a good healthcare story.
I showed up to Med Center Health on a cold March day for a two-week photo/video shoot with an advertising agency called Core Creative. Our goal was to highlight their physicians, the quality of care the physicians provide, and display real scenes of people being helped thanks to this hospital.
I will never forget while waiting for a video to wrap, I suddenly had this sense that there were more stories just around the corner. So I grabbed the hospital marketing director, and we walked all around the hospital capturing real moments in between takes. We started asking permission for the nurses and patients to let me in their rooms for candid photographs. Sidenote: Photo consent is always important, and if somebody says no, that's okay; move on. Just let it be what it is.
I followed a young resident from the Med Center’s residency program making his rounds. Every time he would stop, he would touch somebody's shoulder or their hands. It was just a small gesture of reassurance that let people know he cared. I don't know what ever happened to that young resident, but I imagine that he became a fantastic doctor. He really cared about people's well being and their peace. It was tiny little moments like that, that made up a big brand story.
I went over to the ambulance center and photographed dispatchers calmly handling the most difficult situations you can imagine with an air of quiet grit and determination.
There was a scene with an older woman who had had a nasty fall. It was a tough situation. Thankfully, she turned out okay, and the hospital took great care of her. She and her husband had been married for a long time, and because of her successful surgery, the two of them could spend more time together. Just a reminder that we work with real people and real needs.
We also photographed a young lacrosse player who had torn his shoulder. After really excellent orthopedic care, he now works with a physical therapist to regain his quality of life.
There were a lot of really great stories that we got to photograph on the campaign. But my favorite was the day that we scrubbed into an operating room. It was my first time and I got to put on a gown, booties, and scrubs. I remember even scrubbing down my camera with a wipe that not only kills organic matter, but also the AIDS virus… making me wonder how such a thing was possible…
When walking into an OR, you cannot imagine the sense of holy, awe, and hush that falls over such a room. There is a precision, drive and the focus that makes surgeons live the lives of service to others.
Inside the double doors of recovery, I captured a photo of a charge nurse, laughing joyfully, as she sought to uplift her co-workers.
Just hours later, I photographed preemies being held in the arms of their mothers.
Something about this shoot made me fall in love with healthcare. Photographing clinical healthcare requires a lot of lighting expertise, strobes, panels, gels- you name it. It also requires a lot of patience. You really do need patience for the patients. A lot of people there are not feeling well, but you can always find a person or two with so much gratitude for what they've survived. These people would do anything to tell someone about it, and it's the healthcare workers that make all this possible.
I'll never forget the faces of some of the people that I've gotten to photograph. From surgeons that have dedicated their entire lives to learning the intricacies of the human body to the people that keep the hospital running like a well-oiled machine. There are incredible stories around every corner.
Because of the great people at Core Creative, and also because of the passionate Med Center Health team, we created some really beautiful stories.