Healthcare photography – Medical doctor headshots and photography for hospitals and medical equipment. Contact Forrest Briggs Photography | 828-756-0888

Recently when I was hired to photograph some headshots for a team of medical doctors at Emory University Hospital’s Pediatrics and Hematology department, I knew that I’d be working under a lot of constraints (time and location being paramount… a department full of medical doctors can’t just ‘take off’ en masse in the middle of examining their patients).  Most doctors I know have better things to do then to stand idle at a portrait session waiting for their cue to ‘say cheese’.  While I’m gaining traction in the medical photography arena, portraiture and equipment shoots are my immediate areas of expertise (I love both… they are what get me out of bed on a cold autumn morning) and this shoot fits the bill.

Arriving well in advance of my client, I had enough time to scope out a pleasing backdrop (hospital entranceways usually aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing locations to shoot… plus the sick tend to use these areas to get in and out of the hospital) to fulfill their ideal of an image that conveyed a sense of warmth, competence, and friendliness (warmth on a mid-40 degree autumn morning… the irony).  The skies were overcast… perfect for the 8:45 a.m. shoot.  I could have set up several studio lights, umbrellas and softboxes, with a maze of cables spaghettiing all over the hospital entryway, but why reinvent the wheel when mother nature was providing a softbox encompassing hundreds of square miles over out heads.  It also added a nice rim light to spill over their shoulders.

A Japanese maple tree in a planter immediately outside of the entrance would provide the initial and subliminal ‘warm and welcome’ feel we were going for.  Fortunately the crepe myrtles in the background had yet to lose all of their leaves, otherwise the viewer would be staring at an overpowering, monolithic, white medical building.  The oranges and yellows amplified the shoot’s desired tenor.  Additionally, with a shallow depth of field (see below) we have several layers from foreground to background for the viewers eye to travel around.  The longer the customer’s eye engages in the photo, the more memorable the image and thus the better the marketing impact.  The crepe myrtles in the distance will take on a milky tenor as the depth of field begins to dissolve.  White lab coats on a red / orange background, yeah, that should pop.

Now all we needed was some fill so that the prestigious doctors’ portraits and group shot would have the correct contrast, shadow transition and softness for their marketing materials (not sure if one of the most elite medical centers in the country would want crappy and amateurish photos for their website and print pamphlets).  The sidewalk would suffice to bounce the sun’s rays back up into the doctors’ faces and necks.  So we have a compelling backdrop, grey skies for the lighting, a white walkway for the fill and the side of the building (camera right) to fill the left sides of their faces just a tad.  Bingo, insta-studio.

Next – adjust the white balance to match the ambient color temperature.  Cloudy skies have a fairly high color temperature (somewhere in the ballpark of 6000 Kelvin, which can mute the vibrant hues produced by light rays shooting through the leaves on an otherwise sunny day).  Customizing the white balance in-camera, I neutralized the color temperatures and then took a few test shots to ensure accurate color reproduction.

Next – check the ISO, shutter speed and aperture.  Too much depth of field and we lose the background blur, too little and the doctors’ noses are in focus, but their eyes are out of focus. ISO was set to 800, still a bit of leeway before pushing the lower limits of  my Canon’s graininess.   Shutter speed 200 or so… enough to avert any camera shake and or accidental movements on their part.

Cue the doctors.  8:45, right on time.

Now the posing: Since we didn’t know the final headcount until the shoot began (some attrition due to work responsibilities… plus we’re in the middle of Atlanta rush hour) I had a few different configurations in mind – the classic chevron and something that mixes convention up a bit.  Only some of the doctors had time to grab their lab coats on the way to the location, thus the chevron was out of the question if we wanted to include everyone.  A bit of quick thinking was needed.  I wanted something slightly asymmetric, but still balanced in terms of space and weight.  Varying body types, attire and heights makes this a fun mental exercise (one doesn’t want to have everyone fall into place, only to rearrange them a dozen times… again its that “this is the absolute least important thing I’m doing at the hospital all week, so why is this idiot wasting my valuable time” thing).  Ok, some bodies angled this way, other bodies facing that way, tilt the head just a tad, point your nose over here, chin up, chin down, place your hands this way, eyes towards me, oh heck, just click the shutter.

How to photograph headshots for busy hospital medical doctors (the Cliffs notes):

1. Fully wrap your head around the scope of the project – its intent, the message that needs to be communicated, number of doctors, location, time, deliverables, etc.
2. Arrive early (allow plenty of time for multiple traffic wrecks in Atlanta).
3. Scout several locations
4. Construct and check the lighting
5. Calibrate the white balance
6. Verify ISO, shutter speed and aperture
7. Pose the doctors
8. Action!
9. From the time you wake up in the morning until the time you leave the shoot, do NOT delay.  Carefully think through the shoot and plan for every possible contingency.  Yes, their time is worth more than yours.

The group and individual shoot lasted all of about fifteen minutes.  Here’s the final image for the group shot.  Did we do the medical team justice for their various marketing and PR channels?

Photography for Doctors, Patients, Labs, Hospitals and Healthcare Related Equipment contact Forrest Now via forrest@forrestbriggs.com or Call 828-756-0888

Medical Doctor Headshot Photographer Forrest Briggs Emory Hospital Photo Shoot

Photography for Doctors, Patients, Labs, Hospitals and Healthcare Related Equipment contact Forrest Now via forrest@forrestbriggs.com or Call 828-756-0888

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