This post was written by Denali Johnson, a previous member of our team.
Photography has always been an interest of mine, but in the past several years it has gone from a casual hobby to a full-fledged passion. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research regarding portraiture and posing, and oddly enough, have found that many of the rules I’ve learned are also applicable to CCMU’s work and health care systems change in general.
Here are my top three tips for aspiring photographers and health care innovators:
Alter your perspective: Just as photos can become more interesting when they are taken from an unexpected angle, looking at health care issues from a different perspective can be enlightening. Whether it is a doctor putting themselves in the shoes of a patient (PDF), a legislator looking at a bill from the opposing side, or a frustrated patient considering what it is like to be a provider, we could all benefit from taking a step back and looking at health care from a different point of view.
Be willing to break the rules: There are many rules when it comes to photograph composition and I follow them closely. I get my best photos, though, when I knowingly step outside of the lines and am willing to experiment. Sometimes rules need to be broken! In medicine, this can mean being willing to sign on to a new model of care—like the Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)—or being open to alternative therapies. One great example of health care innovation that broke all the rules is the Hot Spotters movement, started by Dr. Jeffrey Brenner in Camden, NJ.
Shoot candidly and get closer: It’s true that some (maybe even most) people aren’t comfortable in front of a camera. Posed shots often end up showing every bit of awkwardness the subject is feeling. Shooting candidly or extremely close up can lead to more natural shots and a better representation of your subject. I see the importance of this approach in health care change, too. CCMU’s on-the-ground, community approach lends strength and perspective to our work, and reminds us who it is that we are working on behalf of. Getting close and candidly conversing with these everyday Coloradans who live the good and the bad of the health care system is a great refresher course on why our work is important.