Healthcare Photography with HCA: Holy Tension

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The thing that really fascinates me about healthcare photography is all the different layers you can find on any given floor of a hospital. There are always a million stories happening all the time. 


Although some people in the advertising industry may find healthcare campaigns redundant, brand advertising for healthcare really energizes me. Are there similar stories? Yes, but they're always different, they're always happening, and there are new ones every time. 


I started shooting clinical healthcare at Med Center Health in Bowling Green, KY.  I was asked to be a part of a two-week shoot in Kentucky, and that was just a really great experience. It really brought something alive in me that I never would’ve expected. The campaign brought this sense of awe and wonder for the work that healthcare professionals do. A Holy Tension. The heart, the sweat, the blood, the tears, the long hours that they put into it. The years of study and training that they put into their work speak volumes of who they are as people. 

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So this last November in 2021, I had the incredible opportunity to work with Healthcare Corporation of America in Kansas City. HCA is one of those brands that I've always been impressed with because of their commitment to really caring for, valuing, and honoring human life. They care about people. HCA honors their caregivers, and their caregivers take that honor and pour it back into patients. 


On this recent shoot, HCA wanted to highlight the amazing relationships between patients and caregivers, and it was so beautiful. I was working with a really talented videographer named Dave Ogle. I was director of photography and Dave was shooting. It was a great partnership because both of us really focused on finding those little stories and taking the time to chat with people..taking time to really be with them.

For example,  there was an incredible lady we met who was blind. She'd been bitten by a dog, but this woman just had the most beautiful glow about her. She was so joyful; so grateful that it wasn't worse. She loved her medical team, she loved us for coming to visit her and being in the room. Gratitude flowed so much out of her that she absolutely entranced the people that were serving her. There also was this sweet man that had a major spine surgery. He had this beautiful spirit of joy that he carried to his caregivers with kindness. 

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Another thing that inspired me about this shoot was how HCA allowed me to really highlight people who aren’t normally seen. We got to highlight the support staff that truly made the hospital run: maintenance, food servers, and environmental servers. This brand anthem honored every single cog in the machine.  


There are all kinds of stories in a hospital. There are stories of great love. There are stories of great tragedy, there are stories of great healing and hope. And there are stories of great loss. Healthcare workers walk a thin line between hope and sorrow, that is so intricately and delicately balanced. As just a small example of this pathos in healthcare photography, I just remember this intensity in a surgical control room, where the woman at the panel was not sure how the surgery would turn out. It's in those moments that you have to know either when to respect the moment by not lifting up the camera, or hold that holy tension in your hands to tell the stories that need to be told. 


I hope that this inspires you to not only tell and live your own story with great gusto, but even inspires you to slow down and appreciate the million little miracles that are around us every single day.