OB photographer Jason Kaplan describes photographing the new virtual world of health care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly changed the way most of us work. As a photographer, it has had a big impact on how I do my job.
Back in pre-pandemic times, I enjoyed spending time with people in their workplaces and learning about their professional lives. To adapt to COVID-19, I have been using shorter appointments, working mostly outside and photographing people from a distance while wearing a mask.
Lately, much of our reporting has been focused on how different industries have adapted to this new reality. Our July/August cover story looks at how telemedicine is being used to deliver care to patients.
As many practitioners are seeing patients via video conferencing, we wanted to convey this new approach on our cover. This also worked well logistically because our cover subject is a family practitioner in Enterprise, 300 miles from where I live.
Zoom Video Conferencing is an application many of us have used a lot lately, doctors included. While I usually take Zoom meeting on my desktop computer, I noticed that my teenage daughter primarily video chats on her phone.
It inspired an idea that our cover doctor should be shown on a mobile device as this is the primary way so many people now communicate with others over the internet.
I made a mock-up of the image I had in my mind, similar to the photo illustration above, and pitched it to our art director, Joan McGuire. She liked the concept, so I scheduled a Zoom meeting with Dr. Elizabeth Powers, a physician at Winding Waters health clinic in Enterprise, and her husband, Nic Powers, the CEO.
I considered trying to photograph my computer screen while they were displayed, but decided against it. To maximize image quality (such as it is on Zoom) I directed them to pose in front of their computer cameras and took screen captures.
I shot more than 200 captures as Dr. Powers was moving from room to room looking for a better wifi signal in an attempt in improve the video resolution.
Me, top right, meeting with Nic and Elizabeth Powers to set up our Zoom photoshoot.
I directed Dr. Powers to pose in front of her camera. This shot was used inside the magazine. I liked her expression and closeness. I also appreciated how the background was split between white and red.
A vertical crop from a full screen-grab of Dr. Powers was used for the photo illustration on the cover.
For other elements of the final image, I photographed my wife holding a cell phone.
Combining the two photos provided the image that appears on the July/August 2020 issue.
My hope is that this provides a sense of the experience when a doctor’s visit is accessed right from the palm of your hand.
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