I became seriously interested in photography approximately 20 years ago, inspired by an exhibit I saw of John Sexton’s black and white landscapes. Since then, photography has become a way of immersing myself in a moment – a mindset that preliminarily seems so different from what I do as a hematologist/oncologist. I see something that excites me, set my camera on a tripod, manipulate the camera’s movements, wait for the proper light, and feel confident that I’ve captured something special when I snap the shutter. And I spend lots of time on each print, using chemicals and my hands rather than pixels and LED screens to make the final product. It’s a process that’s contemplative, thoughtful, and planful at its best moments— maybe like good patient care.
Photography for me parallels doctoring in other ways too. As physicians, we try to sort through what might be random details of a patients history, physical exam and lab work to find patterns of diseases that will lead to strategies that can improve the quality of a life. And as photographers, we also try to use our craft to discover and then impose order onto random details. Then, lines, textures and shadows might in the best of circumstances be reorganized and inspire us to understand and enjoy something that would otherwise be mundane.
Perhaps photography can be healing as well. For me, it can certainly be a welcome relief from all the time spent looking over a laptop screen while with patients. I’ve decorated my office and our chemotherapy infusion suite with my images. Sometimes, these can “break the ice” with frightened patients. More than one has found particular images soothing and helpful during their chemotherapy. And it’s not rare for patients to bring in their own images to share with me — sometimes a few snapshots, occasionally sophisticated portfolios in acid-free archival cases!
So much of my professional life has been molded by institutions – mainly hospitals, traditions and white coated, stethoscope wearing mentors. Parallel inspirations in my photographic world are abundant. Using a traditional mahogany and brass view camera, I’d like to feel that I have a connection to a fellowship of great artists including Edward Steichen, Brett and Edward Weston to name just a few. And I’ve been fortunate to be a member and officer of a 50-year-old tradition in New York City, the photographers cooperative gallery, SohoPhoto. There I’ve had a number of shows and have also exhibited work in my native New Jersey, Philadelphia and Vermont. Some of this is available on artsy too. One contemporary tradition among photographers is one that I have not as yet mastered-having a website. But I can be reached at:
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