In a previous post, I noted that most of my work as Digital Communications Editor takes place online, rarely expanding beyond the reaches of my keyboard. But that was five months ago, and six months since I got my first in-depth view of the whole Penn Medicine enterprise while shooting photographs across campus for the Day in the Life photo project. Since then, I've taken on an additional role as “in-house photographer.” Now, I find myself getting out from behind the keyboard pretty frequently, accompanying press officers to various events and happenings around Penn Medicine's facilities to turn my camera’s lens toward a wide variety of happenings in the patient care and research world. It has been wonderful — a welcome development.
In what will hopefully be a regular series on the Penn Medicine News Blog, I'd like to share some of the photos I've taken over the past month or so, giving readers a glimpse behind the scenes of events – both the everyday and the extraordinary – that happen here. Some of these photos you may already have seen floating around in an online slideshow or accompanying an article on various Penn sites, others have not previously seen the light of day. All of them represent another experience I'm thankful to have had here at Penn Medicine.
Anatomy Lab with James White, PhD
Taking photos in the anatomy lab can present a few hurdles for a photographer, the first and most important being that we have to respect these individuals, who have donated their bodies to help educate the next generation of doctors, by not including them in photos. Another concern was ducking under the cameras of the film crew behind me, as they were shooting footage for a Coursera course on anatomy. At one point, Dr. White riffed for a while about the anatomy of the forearm while the camera crew and I hovered around. That’s what you’re seeing here.
Match Day 2013
Match Day is huge for medical students, as it's when they find out where they're getting placed for their residency. At Penn Medicine, the Match Day ceremony very strongly resembles graduation practice. Everybody's giddy, joking around and keeping the mood light. As envelopes are opened and these physicians-in-the-making discover where they're going to spend their next few years learning the trade, the pent-up energy explodes into cheering, hugging, the slapping of backs, and yeah — even a few tears.
The ceremony's wonderful, without a doubt, but getting shots at it can be a hectic affair. There are so many different stories unfolding around you that for every good moment you're catching through the viewfinder, you feel as if you're missing twenty or thirty more. Still, the ubiquity of smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras means almost no one moment at any event like this goes uncaptured by someone, so you have to just be happy with those moments you're lucky enough to get. You can find the other shots I took on UPenn.edu as part of their 2013 Match Day coverage.
Inside the Operating Room: Brain Surgery
There are certain things you never quite picture yourself doing, and for me one of those things was standing inside an operating room during brain surgery. It's tough to explain the feeling, really — sort of a humble excitement, I guess is the best way to put it. The best way to handle that feeling, meanwhile, is to make note of the surgeon's focused calm. In this case it was Steven Brem, MD, professor of Neurosurgery, showing us how a brain mapping technique is integrated in the OR.
With the lighting being so perfect and subject matter being so interesting, it would have been nearly impossible to grab a bad shot of the procedure itself. Whether it was easy or not, I consider this one of the best pictures I've ever taken.
Media Training Day
Scientists, researchers and physicians can, on occasion, be reluctant to deal with members of the media because of an understandable fear that their words, research or findings will be misinterpreted or twisted somewhere between the interview and the printer. To help bridge this gap, Penn Medicine held a media training day — a nearly day-long series of discussions and question-and-answer sessions that included a panel partially comprised of media members.
This was particularly fun to shoot because the conversation was so interesting. It's akin to having headphones on, playing your favorite music while you're trying to take pictures. The morning flew by, and while the lighting in the room was difficult it also allowed for a few dynamic images.