Having been a photographer for more than 25 years based in and around Central London I’ve managed to build up a client list that would be the envy of many a photographer.
For British government alone I have worked for more than 40 different departments and quangos over the years including for more than 20 years different areas of the NHS.
I’ve done the personal portrait for the press office of three different Secretary of States for Health and photographed in hospitals as fair a field as Cardiff and Carlisle. I have photographed patients in hospices and operations in progress as well as many different clinical services in the community.
It is always important to understand the commissioning officers needs and preferences when undertaking medical photography, commercial or corporate briefs. Occasionally we are aiming for a reportage capture of a situation or event but sometimes the goal is something more specific.
I had a shoot where the project was Department of Heath scientists and one particular area was scanning. I like most people will get a preconceived idea of what I might be going to find when I reach my location but I also have a healthy understanding that it is never what you expected!
Gleaming high tech scanners, with patients laid out on them passing in and out of a tunnel, shots over the shoulder of an operator using a large screen high tech computer to monitor the results, that was what I was expecting. Sorry no chance I’m told on arrival, the scanner is booked from dawn till dusk and treating people is more important than taking pictures (sometimes the importance doesn’t get relayed down to the people on the ground). So I’m offered a junior operator who at least had a white coat and use of any of the out of the way space around the department.
It’s at this point that the true skill of a photographer can come to the fore, can I build a shot of interest from nothing? After an introductory chat I discover there is an old scanner type piece of equipment in the corner of one of the labs. It’s surrounded by junk, it looks like it is seldom used and the background is a mess. No gleaming hi-tech scanner shot here you might expect?
With the use of off camera flash it’s possible to paint the whole image, if you cut out or expose for a light level far less than the natural daylight in a room it is possible to get control of what light falls on a subject and it’s background to only where you want it. Adding a bit of coloured lighting not generally found in the situation can also add drama or even an element of higher technology than seen with the naked reality of the situation.
A bit of blue complemented with a bit of mauve and a shallow depth of field dealt with the background. A clean light on the main character placed not to interfere with the coloured lights and we had our shot, result good medical photography!
Copyright Brian Russell BRD Associates