Saturday, November 20, 2010

Empty Rooms and Opportunities In Stock Photography

Doctors and surgeons holding power tools and wrenches as they stand in an operating room in a hospital in a medical stock photo.
A painfully humorous stock photo of surgeons with power tools in an OR came about from my having photographed and empty operating room.
Opportunity And An Empty Operating Room
It was my own little experience with the operating room that inspired me to make a series of images on the medical industry (a visit to the emergency room ended up in abdominal surgery and a five day stay in the hospital.  I had to have a follow-up operation and I sought permission to video and photograph the procedure…(well , permission for my friend Shalom Ormsby to record it), for stock photography. Amazingly enough, permission was granted. That shoot led to a medical shoot of my own after my recovery. As part of that second shoot I photographed an empty operating room figuring that eventually I would have a use for it. Over the years I have wasted tremendous opportunities by not thinking with a wide enough net. I should have photographed every room, office and space that I have used in shoots as separate shots, from multiple angles and altitudes, as both legitimate stock shots in their own right and as resources for my composite imagery.

Doctors in the Operating Room

Several months after shooting in the operating room I was putting together a shot list for a shoot centered around some business ideas. After coming up with a primary image I was looking through my archive of resource pictures trying to come up with additional image concepts when I saw the photo of the empty operating room. Of course, the first idea that came to mind was a “traditional” portrait of a doctor or surgeon in the OR.  That has been done to death of course, but even another one would probably sell. BTW, it did sell the first month it was up online…twice actually…but I digress. I really wanted to come up with something different, some that hadn’t been done before, or at least done to death.

Power Tools In The Operating Room

I remembered seeing a “House” episode on TV in during which the esteemed television doctor performs an amputation on a patient trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building. It looked as if he used a “sawsall “or reciprocating saw. That was my answer. I chose to use three different people, posing as surgeons, each a holding a different tool. We ended up using a reciprocating saw, an electric drill and a pipe wrench. I simply photographed each of the models in surgical gowns or scrubs or what ever that clothing is called, in my studio, then stripped them into the operating theater photo. The final image could work for concepts from auto repair to medical insurance to, well,  a whole bunch of things!

Medical Images and an Empty Recovery Room

I ended up with the medical photos and, with the business images included, I was able to get about fifteen different shots from the models in a few hours of work. That may not seem like a lot to shooters who manage to pump out photos in a way Henry Ford would have been proud of, but for me that represents a pretty good investment. The key to this series of medical images (I ended up with one portrait of each model in the hospital OR and the image of all three of them together holding the tools), was to have the presence of mind to shoot the room from various angles while it was empty…something it has taken me years to learn to do! As I mentioned above, the first month these images were up I had three sales (two of the “traditional portraits and one of the doctors holding tools), so I think they will do well. Now, I still have some shots of the empty recovery room….

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